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England lost the test series against Pakistan 2-0 in UAE, after suffering a 127-run defeat in the third and final test in Sharjah last week. They were always going to be up against it in conditions which were inevitably more suited to Pakistan’s spinners, and England’s vulnerability in the long form of the game continues. We said in this column that the heroic Ashes victory over Australia in the summer could prove to be a false dawn, and that has been the case with Pakistan as eager as ever to bring the English down a notch or two after glorious Ashes performances.
Next up, Eoin Morgan’s One Day side take to the field for four 50-over matches, set to be played from the 11th to the 20th of November. It might be easy to assume that because of Pakistan’s dominance in the test series, that they are certain to win here, but things may not be that simple. Here are the odds for the series:
Pakistan – 21/20 2.05 +105 1.05 1.05 -0.95 with BoyleSports
England – 7/2 4.50 +350 3.50 3.50 -0.29 with Paddy Power
While some cricket punters will be happy to lump on Pakistan to win the series, we’d prefer to take the much more attractive odds on an England win, who will be much better suited to the short game in the prevailing conditions.
Test Match Failure
England succumbed to a 127-run loss in the third test last week, being bowled out for 156 before they could make a serious attempt to run-chase. They had resumed on the final day on 46-2 but quickly lost four wickets for 11 runs in the opening hour, and were clinically finished off by the twin attack of Shah and Malik. The spinners took their combined tally to 17 wickets for the final test after Shah took 4-44 and Malik 3-26. That result came off the back of a testing ‘bore-draw’ in the first test, and a 178-run loss in the second.
Of course, English fans will point to the fact that Pakistan won the toss in each game and were able to select to bat first, and bowl on an ever-turning pitch, and it’s true that it was a distinct advantage to a side which boasts two such wonderful spin bowlers. That advantage will almost certainly be diminished in the ODI series, where the pitch has much less of an effect on the game.
One Day Series
The first 50-over international starts at 11am on Wednesday 11th November in Abu Dhabi, with another game to follow at the same venue on Friday 13th November. The teams travel on to Sharjah for the third match on Tueday 17th, and finally to Dubai for the fourth game on Friday 20th November.
One man who is certain to miss the series is England fast-bowler Mark Wood, who is returning home to undergo treatment on a troublesome ankle injury. He missed out on the final test in UAE and after taking cortisone injections to help him through the Ashes in the summer, he may now be facing surgery to correct the problem. Liam Plunkett has taken his place in the squad.
The rest of the English side warmed up in good fashion, beating Hong Kong by 169-runs in their warm-up game in Abu Dhabi ahead of the first ODI, with Moeen Ali leading the way with 71 runs from 36 balls. Opener Alex Hales also struck a half-century as England amassed 342-8 from their 50 overs. David Willey took 4-43 as Hong Kong were quickly dismissed for 173.
Pakistan’s useful tactic in test matches of batting first and then relying on the brilliance of Shah to bowl out the opposition, doesn’t work anywhere near as well in ODI’s, and it’s no surprise to learn that Pakistan tend to struggle with this format in UAE. They’ve only won one of their last six ODI series here, and big scorelines have been seen on more than one occasion in recent years. Australia have whitewashed Pakistan three times in ODI series’ since 2012, while South Africa and England have also dished out heavy beatings.
The hosts will be without Shahid Afridi, Saeed Ajmal and Misbah-ul-Haq, although their top five remains strong and could easily frustrate England’s bowlers.
England will miss Steven Finn, Ben Stokes and Mark Wood, but Eoin Morgan, Joe Root, and openers Jason Roy and Alex Hales will be critical to the tourists’ chances.
Their last tour of UAE in February 2012 resulted in a 3-0 test series defeat which was arguably more demoralizing than the recent loss. However, they came out fighting to dominate the subsequent ODI series and won all four games fairly comfortably. If they are to do the same again, much will rely on the batting prowess of Roy and Hales, ably supported by Root, Butler and Morgan.
Of the last 34 One Day games in UAE, 18 have been won by the chasing side, which serves to prove that hitting big with the bat is the way to go. England profited from a much more attacking variety of cricket in this summer’s victory over New Zealand in the ODI’s, in a remarkable series and they will be in good stead if they can tap in to that aggressive mindset once again.
England to beat Pakistan in the first ODI
Wednesday 11th November, 11:00 GMT
Odds: 5/4 2.25 +125 1.25 1.25 -0.80
England to win the ODI Series
11th – 20th November
Odds: 7/2 4.50 +350 3.50 3.50 -0.29