England proved their title credentials in the opening game of the 2019 World Cup, crushing South Africa by 104 runs. The form of Ben Stokes and pace spearhead Jofra Archer should fill the hosts with confidence as they take on Pakistan in Nottingham on Monday.
Sarfraz Ahmed’s Men in Green were blown away by West Indies pacer’s short-ball ploy as they folded for just 105 at Trent Bridge. What’s more, England’s recent ODI series whitewash over Sarfraz’s men gives the hosts a clear edge in their encounter on Monday but you can never discount Pakistan at a world event.
The match will be played on the same surface that produced world-record scores of 481 and 444 – both by England – in the last three years. With another high-scoring encounter expected, we take a look at three key battles that could shape the match.
Jofra Archer v Babar Azam
Archer’s three-wicket burst against the Proteas was probably more significant than Stokes’ all-round display against South Africa as he provided the missing ingredient in England’s already brilliant outfit – raw and consistent pace. They way Archer hurried South Africa’s batsmen and got a class batsman like Faf du Plessis off a short ball shows that he is the real deal.
He will once again be the go-to man for Morgan and it will be up to Pakistan’s best batsman – Babar Azam – to keep the lanky quick at bay. While Pakistan have fallen to their 11th straight ODI defeat, the consistent form of Babar has given them some solace. If he gets on top of Archer, it will be game on.
Eoin Morgan v Sarfraz Ahmed
Leadership skills and team selection will be key in this game and both captains have some tough calls to make. Morgan will be toying with the idea of bringing in Mark Wood’s extra pace to beef up the bowling line-up while Sarfraz simply has to bring in hard-hitting and in-form batsman Asif Ali to provide some stability to a fragile line-up.
Also, how the captains marshal their resources on the field and don’t let the game drift away during what could be a high-scoring match will have a major bearing on the outcome. Everything is going perfectly for Morgan and not so for Sarfraz. But it can all change in the blink of an eye.
Jonny Bairstow v Mohammad Amir
England opener Bairstow got out for a golden duck against the Proteas, and will be desperate to make amends on what should be a superb pitch to bat. A quality and in-form batsman like Bairstow can’t be kept quiet for long and England will be banking on him to get a good start.
Looking to stop Jonny in his tracks will be left-arm pacer Mohammad Amir, who finally got among the wickets during the seven-wicket thrashing by the Windies. Amir’s 3-26 was his first two-wicket plus effort in an ODI in two years. A couple of wickets – hopefully Bairstow and Jason Roy – early and that would be half the job done.
Know more about Sport360 Application