Pakistan mull Yasir option to counter rampaging England

LONDON: Pakistan overlooked Yasir Shah for the series-opening game in Southampton but are unlikely to repeat that mistake when they take on England in the second One-day International (ODI) here at Lord’s on Saturday (today), writes Khalid Hussain.

England almost toyed with Pakistan’s attack as they cruised to victory by 44 runs ((D/L method) while chasing a target of 261. Pakistan’s pace trio of Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz and Umar Gul bowled too short and the two young all-rounders — Imad Wasim and Mohammad Nawaz — looked largely unthreatening with their left-arm slow bowling.

In a nutshell Pakistan missed Yasir, who played a key role in both their Test wins at Lord’s and The Oval earlier this season.

“We need to take wickets especially in those middle overs and that is where Yasir becomes a big consideration,” Pakistan’s coach Mickey Arthur said on Friday.

Yasir bowled with a lot of intensity in a marathon training session here at Lord’s which was another hint that he was asked to warm up for today’s game. Imad might make place for him in the playing eleven today.

There will also be lot of pressure on the senior duo of Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik after Arthur warned that the players will have to step up or step out of the line-up.

Hafeez was axed for the final Test and unless he bounces back at Lord’s, chances are that Pakistan will not persist with him in the last three games of the ODI series to be played in Nottingham, Leeds and Cardiff.

The good news for the likes of Hafeez is that the Lord’s track, despite its greenish tinge, seems full of runs.

Pakistan should also be buoyed by the fact that Lord’s is a happy hunting ground for them. They began the four-Test series earlier on this tour with an exciting win at Lord’s. They also beat England — by 38 runs — the last time the two sides met here in an ODI back in 2010 soon after the infamous spot-fixing scandal.

They need to beat England today considering that a 0-2 deficit before going to the cooler north where conditions will suit England more would all but end their chances of winning the series.

But it is going to be an uphill task. Pakistan have a 1-9 record against England in the last ten encounters between the two teams. England have been unbeaten in ODIs all this summer.

However, the hosts could be preoccupied after their cricket board’s decision to tour Bangladesh despite security concerns.

England could bring back David Willey who missed the first game because of a hand injury. Chris Jordan is also pressing for a call-up but it remains to be seen whether England will consider this option after Mark Wood’s fiery performance at The Ageas Bowl.

The fact that the Lord’s pitch has some grass on it might tempt England to bring in an extra seamer in place of Moeen Ali.

It was really sunny at Lord’s on Friday but the weather could be a bit different on match day with the forecast of slight showers during the day.

Teams (likely):

Pakistan: Sharjeel Khan, Azhar Ali (captain), Mohammad Hafeez, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Mohammad Nawaz, Wahab Riaz, Umar Gul, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Amir.

England: Alex Hales, Jason Roy, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan (captain), Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler (wk), Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Adil Rashid, Liam Plunkett, Mark Wood.

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