Pakistan A vs England Lions, 1st T20 – England Lions v Pakistan A in UAE, 2018
December 7, 2018
Sheikh Zayed Stadium Nursery 1, Abu Dhabi
The Sheik Zayed Stadium Nursery 1 in Abu Dhabi is one which Pakistan A has become accustomed to a lot lately with a number of fixtures against New Zealand A and now the England Lions side.
However, the T20 series between New Zealand A and Pakistan A saw all three matches being played at the ICC Academy in Dubai and as far as T20 cricket is concerned, the Sheik Zayed stadium will present an unknown factor for both teams concerned.
The third and fourth ODIs of the recently concluded five-match series between England Lions and Pakistan A were also played at this venue, with the two sides winning a match each.
Both the two T20s will be played at this venue which recently hosted its first ever international match when Australia faced United Arab Emirates in a one-off T20 on October 22.
The surface does generally favour the batsmen and the shortest format of the game could provide a tough time for the bowlers.
While Pakistan A have won both the Test and ODI legs of the series against England Lions, the strong resistance offered by the visitors deserves appreciation. They were 2-1 ahead in the ODI series at one point before Mohammad Rizwan’s side came storming back in the final two fixtures to emerge champions.
The skipper will however be missing for the T20 series as he has been selected for the Pakistan Under-23 side which will be competing at the 2018 Emerging Teams Asia Cup tournament and this certainly does make the contest even more competitive.
Expected playing XI
Shan Masood (C), Mukhtar Ahmed, Israrullah, Adil Amin, Muhammad Hassan (WK), Zohaib Khan, Waqas Maqsood, Umaid Asif, Muhammad Irfan, Irfan Jr, Irfan Khan
Nick Gubbins, Liam Livingstone, Sam Hain, Joe Clarke (c), Max Holden, Lewis Gregory, Alex Davies (wk), Mark Wood, Dominic Bess, Jamie Overton, Saqib Mahmood
My Dream XI
Alex Davies had a decent ODI series with the bat for England Lions and is the safer bet as the choice of wicket keeper for the Dream XI side. His knock of 76 at the top was crucial in his side’s victorious chase of 289 in the 2nd ODI against Pakistan A.
I have opted to load my side with as many as five batsmen as the surface is expected to favour the willow more than the ball.
Three players from the host side make the cut, including skipper Shan Masood, Mukhtar-Ahmed and Adil Amin while the two players selected from England Lions are Sam Hain and skipper Joe Clarke.
I have opted for an all-English duo in the allrounders category with Liam Livingstone and Lewis Gregory as they have a pretty solid record in T20 record with both bat and ball and could prove handy picks given the conditions.
Waqas Maqsood is easily the first choice amongst the bowlers considering his outstanding effort in the 5-match ODI series. The two other bowlers I have opted for are the tall lanky pacer Mohammad Irfan Jr and England Lions’ Saqib Mahmood.
Captain & Vice captain: Waqas Maqsood and Liam Livingstone
Player to watch out for: Waqas Maqsood
With 12 wickets from four matches in the ODI series against England Lions, it is impossible to look beyond left-arm medium pacer Waqas Maqsood as the player to watch out for as the two-match T20 series kicks off on Friday.
The England Lions batsmen have struggled to get around Maqsood and his wicket-taking ability proved to be a crucial factor in tilting the ODI series in the hosts’ favour and they will be hoping for a similar result in the T20 leg of the tour as well.