Pakistan look to respond after crushing defeat

Last night, lost to England by 63 runs. This was a day after beat visitors by 10 wickets.

England is now ahead by 2-1 after seven matches. The series is still far from over, however, as there are five more matches and the unpredictable momentum shift.

The second T20 was a testament to Pakistan’s strength, but their openers were a reminder of the side’s fragility in the middle-order.

Shan Masood was the only one who showed up to support Pakistan as they chased an international record 221 runs here at the National Stadium. This venue will host the fourth and final T20 of this series on Sunday.

The stadium was packed with Karachi’s cricket fans for the first three games. Tickets for the fourth game have already been sold out. They would like to see a balanced performance by Babar’s men, particularly from the middle-order.

It was not just about the performance of Pakistan’s batsmen in Friday’s match. For a bowling team that is considered one of the most elite in the world, getting plundered for 221 runs in 20 innings is unacceptable.

Mohammad Nawaz bowled the best in Pakistan, giving away 34 runs in just four left-arm spins.

The hosts’ weakest link was the fast-bowlers; Mohammad Hasnain had nine economy rates from Pakistan pacers.

While being defensive about Pakistan’s middle-order bats, Saqlain Mushtaq was not afraid to admit that Pakistan’s bowling plans had failed in the match where England’s batters Harry Brook (139 runs) and Ben Duckett (69 runs) returned to the dugout unbeaten.

Saqlain admitted that “our bowlers didn’t bowl according to the plan” and suggested that they need to improve their performance before the next game.

England, on the other side, proved to be ruthless with their bats. The World Cup 50-over champions displayed their depth by replacing David Willey (who was injured) and Luke Wood (who were defeated by Pakistan openers Mohammad Rizwan and Babar). Reece Topley, a fit-again, also participated in the batting masterclass.

Babar was unable to keep up with Wood’s speed — the right-armer clocked 156kph — while Topley chased Rizwan down. Wood got Pakistan’s third-ranked Haider Ali, before Shan and Khushdil Shah joined forces for damage control.

England has yet to test all-rounder Chris Woakes or uncapped pacer Olly stone in this series.

Wood stated that Moeen [England captain] Ali wanted me to be aggressive towards Rizwan, Babar, and attempt to unsettle them.”

Wood will be taking on both Pakistan openers Sunday again. It is possible that Rizwan and Babar may make an early return to the pavilion. As the T20 World Cup draws near, fans will be anxious about Pakistan’s middle-order.

Saqlain however did not believe that the middle-order was a problem and that their disappointing performance was due to nothing but a bad show.

The head coach stated, confusingly, that fans want, and you all want, for us to win. It’s all natural. We have only the ability to pray for rest, but we do not have any intent.

It remains to be seen whether Sunday will be a good day to Haider, Khushdil, and Iftikhar Ahmad.

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