England v Pakistan
Sunday 18 July, 14:30
TV: live on Sky Sports
England could switch bowling
By the end of the series, if England don't know already, defeat to Pakistan in this format is no disgrace. And fiercely-competitive contests should ask the home team serious questions about their line-up.
After allowing Pakistan to record their highest-ever total, questions will again be asked about whether England's work in the field is tight enough for World T20 glory this year. It is true that their attack for Trent Bridge was not first-choice but aren't we supposed to be enthralled by the strength in depth?
Adil Rashid and Chris Jordan could both come back into the team at the expense of Tom Curran and Saqib Mahmood respectively. At some stage England may need to pair Rashid and Parkinson together as proper prep for the UAE.
Liam Livingstone's brilliant century also raises question marks. Is Eoin Morgan worth his spot on batting? Can Ben Stokes get back into this side? Jos Buttler comes back after recovering from a calf injury
Probable XI Buttler, Roy, Malan, Bairstow, Livingstone, Morgan, Gregory, Willey, Jordan, Rashid, Saqib
Pakistan put their foot down
Pakistan proved how dangerous they are with a thrilling success in game one by 31 runs. Batting first their top-order power proved too much for England's bowlers.
Mohammad Rizwan, finding form again after a slump in the PSL part two, and Babar Azam laid the platform perfectly for the middle-order hitters to come in and be reckless. It was heartening for Pakistan fans who have long feared they don't quite have the muscle to match the top sides.
But this was a major boost. Sohaib Maqsood, Fakhar Zaman and Mohammad Hafeez struck at 271, 325 and 240 respectively in the most perfect display of hitting you're ever likely to see. Pakistan intentions were perhaps clear with the choice of Azam Khan as an extra batting. The handbrake is off.
They could lengthen their batting if they wished. Hasan Ali, who missed the first match, is a possible replacement for Haris Rauf. Faheem Ashraf will have been disappointed to miss out to Imad Wasim.
Probable XI Rizwan, Babar, Maqsood, Fakhar, Hafeez, Khan, Imad, Shadab, Afridi, Rauf, Hasnain
There have been six matches played at Headingley in the Blast this year. And it has been an absolute road. Five of them have produced first-innings scores of 170 or more. More than 200 has been busted twice. If we take the study period back to 2019, in total 13 first innings have breached 170 or more out of 17.
Given the batting power on display from both sides we should feel confident of big runs. Sportsbook go 6/5 for both notching 170 and they have boosted the price for both teams to score 180 to 12/5. Both scoring 190 is 7/2 and both scoring 200 is 13/2. All are reasonable wagers. The first-innings runs line is going to be pitched high, possibly in the mid 180s.
The weather forecast is excellent with little cloud expected. That is hugely important at Headingley with batting easy when the sun is out.
England are 1.664/6 with Pakistan 2.466/4. Before game one we said we didn't agree with prohibitive prices about the hosts. We have seen nothing to change our mind.
Actually, that's not true. We were keen to have the toss on our side with Pakistan preferring to chase over the last few months. But it seems they are gung-ho with the bat first up to allay any worries.
We're more than happy to bet them as outsiders. It gives a great opportunity for a green book if they bat because they should be favourites at the break. Keep England on side in a monster chase, though. As Livingstone proved, they will still be in the game with 200 or more to go after.
Sportsbook clearly expected Buttler to return. They made him favourite for top England bat at 13/5. Yorkshire's Malan still looks like strong value at 3/1. Livingstone has been cut to 7/2. Bairstow, also on his home ground, is the same price.
Babar has been boosted to 9/4 for top Pakistan bat. But it is Maqsood who catches the eye at 11/2. He batted at No 3 in Nottingham and enhanced his reputation. It's a mistake.
Read our top-bat and side market analysis here
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