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Preview: T20 Series: England vs. Pakistan - prediction, team news, series so far

Sports Mole previews the 2024 second T20 match between England and Pakistan, scheduled to get underway on Saturday in Edgbaston, Birmingham.

Following the washout of the first T20 at Headingley in midweek, England and Pakistan will be eager to take the field for the second match at Edgbaston on Saturday afternoon.

Both these sides now have just three remaining matches in this series to use as preparation before heading to the USA and West Indies for the ICC T20 World Cup next month.

Match preview

England's Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes during game against Netherlands at Cricket World Cup on November 8, 2023.© Reuters

Few can forget the thrilling match between these two in 2022 in Melbourne when England emerged victorious and lifted the T20 World Cup trophy after Ben Stokes's composed half-century in 49 balls.

However, the side will have to get the job done without their star all-rounder this time around after he opted out of selection for the tournament due to the ongoing injuries he has been battling to overcome.

Since the 2022 tournament, though, England have struggled to find their best form. They failed to make it out of the group stage at the ODI World Cup last year, finishing seventh with six defeats in nine matches.

The Three Lions' lackluster performance in India featured disheartening losses to Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and South Africa, with the defeat against the Proteas marking their heaviest one-day international loss. They were then beaten by West Indies in their most recent T20 and ODI series in December.

As a result, the ECB seem determined not to leave anything to chance here, having recalled their players from the ongoing Indian Premier League in order to play a full part against Pakistan in this series.

England will begin their T20 World Cup tournament on June 4 against Scotland in Barbados. As part of Group B, they will also contend with strong opponents such as Australia, Namibia and Oman in their pursuit of a title defence.

Pakistan batsman Mohammad Rizwan in action in September 2022.© Reuters

Meanwhile, while Pakistan's recent performances against England in this format have been underwhelming, having lost seven of their last ten matches, including a 4-3 series defeat at home in 2022, they are making strides forward on and off the pitch to return to their glory days.

The Men in Green are also regrouping after a disappointing campaign in India, but have appointed South African battling legend Gary Kirsten to lead the white-ball squad, and his introduction has evidently brought renewed optimism to an already talented squad.

However, Pakistan's preparation for the upcoming T20 World Cup suffered an almighty jolt when they were defeated by Ireland by five wickets in the first of a three-match T20 series earlier this month.

Aside from Saim Ayub and Iftikhar Ahmed, who scored 45 and 37 respectively, the rest of the Pakistan batting lineup struggled, with Mohammad Rizwan, Azam Khan and Shadab Khan all failing to trouble to scoring.

Indeed the Men in Green bounced back to win the series 2-1 in the end but the first-game loss was a reminder of how much the competition have improved in recent years.

While they are the only side not to have released their final squad for the upcoming T20 World Cup as yet, Pakistan finds themselves in Group A, alongside arch-rivals India, as well as Canada, the USA, and Ireland.

Team News

England celebrate wicket during Cricket World Cup fixture against Pakistan on November 11, 2023.© Reuters

Liam Livingstone and Mark Wood are still recovering from injuries and are expected to miss several games in the four-match series. Wood last played in England's final Test against India in Dharamshala two months ago but was seen running during a training session on Tuesday, indicating he might be close to returning to full fitness.

Jofra Archer, who has managed just 15 T20 appearances since making his international debut five years ago, is set to start his first match for England since March. Despite his remarkable international debut in the summer of 2019, Archer has faced extended periods on the injured list.

Undoubtedly, Shaheen Afridi stands out as the star of Pakistan's bowling attack, boasting a highly impressive career strike rate of 15.0. Given his prowess, the paceman should be entrusted with the new ball under the lights in this match.

The likes of Babar Azam and Fakhar Zaman have been in good touch with the bat for the Men in Green and they will lead the top order, while Shadab Khan is likely to start as the side's main spin option.

England squad: Jos Buttler (c, wk), Moeen Ali (vc), Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Harry Brook, Sam Curran, Ben Duckett, Tom Hartley, Will Jacks, Chris Jordan, Liam Livingstone, Adil Rashid, Phil Salt (wk), Reece Topley, Mark Wood

Pakistan squad: Babar Azam (c), Abbas Afridi, Abrar Ahmed, Iftikhar Ahmed, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir, Shaheen Afridi, Saim Ayub, Salman Ali Agha, Azam Khan (wk), Irfan Khan, Shadab Khan, Usman Khan, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Naseem Shah, Imad Wasim, Fakhar Zaman

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We say: England to win

After a shocking exit in the ODI World Cup last year, England will be doubly-determined to make amends in the shorter format this year and building up momentum to the event in the US and Caribbean will be crucial.

Pakistan have proven time and again that they can never be counted out of any match they participate in but with home advantage, we feel the Three Lions will claim the victory in this one.

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Ben Stokes representing England in a one-day international in July 2022.
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