England’s six-wicket win over Pakistan featured a clutch of heartening performances from players hoping to travel on for the Test tour of South Africa next month.
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The success in Sharjah means England are on course for one-day international series victory over Pakistan, 2-1 up with just one match still to play in Dubai on Friday.
Before then, though, they will all discover the identities of those set to take on the world’s No. 1 Test team over Christmas and the new year.
England will name a squad of either 16 or 17 on Thursday – and in various measures James Taylor, Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes’ contributions against Pakistan on Tuesday can have done their Test aspirations no harm.
Woakes’ chances have also been enhanced by the news seamers Mark Wood and Steven Finn won’t be fit in time for the tour. All-rounder Ben Stokes, though, is understood to have recovered sufficiently from a collar-bone injury.
Taylor and Buttler, who shared an unbroken century stand as England chased 208 to win with nine overs to spare, are both near certain selections anyway.
But they can draw extra encouragement from their respective, unbeaten innings of 67 and 49 – Buttler’s a much-needed return to form after his run of miserable scores in all formats, and dropping as Test wicketkeeper for the final match of the series defeat against Pakistan.
“The chase was exceptional,” Morgan said. “The manner in which they played was probably the biggest step we’ve had forward on this tour so far. In previous tours, when you’re presented with a challenge, you sometimes fall short to start with – and then need to make a mistake in order to learn.”
Taylor and Buttler were exemplary – while Woakes may well be back in the Test reckoning as an extra seamer.
He has put a fallow period behind him with successive four-wicket hauls in the last two ODIs to help England to victory in each.
Morgan added: “I thought we were outstanding in all facets. The attitude we showed to dig in and show resilience is one of the things I’m really proud of.
“Considering we’re a young side lacking a bit of experience, it says a great deal about the progress we are making at the moment.”
Pakistan captain Azhar Ali is aiming for a better display in the final match of the ODI series at the Dubai Cricket Stadium.
“As a team we are in the process of settling down,” said Ali, appointed captain after the 2015 World Cup when Misbah-ul-Haq retired from one-day cricket.
“The last match is a must-win game for us. We will select the team based on the best 11 who can help us win.”
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