Ed Hawkins bemoans a Pakistan touring party who can't handle the expectation of success ahead of Tuesday's action from Manchester...
"If Pakistan can get going with the bat again – and Babar Azam and Mohammad Hafeez look in great touch – we can foresee an in-play wager on the host from [1.80]"
England v Pakistan
Tuesday 1 September, 18:00
Live on Sky Sports
England took a 1-0 lead with a game to play thanks to their highest T20 chase at Old Trafford on Saturday. Set 196 to win they made light work of the task.
A win never seemed in doubt after a blistering start from Jonny Bairstow and Tom Banton. Jason Roy's T20 career looks in serious jeopardy when you consider Jos Buttler will return for the T20 series which starts against Australia on Friday. Dawid Malan and Eoin Morgan then continued the pulverisation, striking at 154 and 200 respectively. Ouch.
Sure, we could wibble on about England's limited bowling attack - Saqib Mahmood looked out of his depth - but when England can bat like this it might not matter.
Possible XI Banton, Bairstow, Malan, Morgan, Billings, Moeen, Gregory, Jordan, T Curran, Rashid, Mahmood
Pakistan lose control
For the second time this summer we're left wondering what position Pakistan can win from. It was a case of déjà vu from the first Test when they ahd the match in their pocket at Old Trafford and then let things slip.
Of course T20 isn't as nuanced as the long game but it was a surprise to see a Pakistan team better suited to defending to be, well, hopeless. Not one of their bowlers gave a semblance of control and they will surely make changes. Mohammad Hasnain looks likely to be a beneficiary. Middle-order batter Khushdil Shah could get a game. There has been much clamour for him to be in the XI from game one so Shaob Malik might have to make way.
Possible XI Babar, Fakhar, Hafeez, Khushdil, Iftikhar, Shadab, Rizwan, Imad, Amir, rauf, Hasnain
2020 England 199-5(Morgan 66, Shadab 3-34) chased Paki-stan 195-4 (Hafeez 69, Rashid 2-32)
2019 England 175-3 (Morgan 57*, Imad 1-24) chased Pakistan 173-6 (Babar 65, T Curran 1-23)
2016 Pakistan 139-1 chased England 135-7 (Wahab 3-18)
Overall England 12 Pakistan 4
Chase bias trend?
There have been eight T20 internationals at Old Trafford, the first 12 years ago, but only six have produced results. Five have been won by the chaser. That's an interesting trend but it's too small a study period to start wagering with confidence. The last four first-innings scores (starting in 2015 with 1-2 denoting match won by side batting first or second) read: 196-2/159-2/135-2/191-1. The last ten domestic totals at the venue read: 142-2/162-1/151-1/130-2/189-1/185-1/154-1/190-2/176-1/157-1.
England could come alive in-play
Pakistan defending a good total was supposed to be our edge in this series which pits short odds homers against flighty, big-priced tourists. So there's little to get excited about Pakistan at [2.64]. If they lose their grip so easily with almost ten an over in the bank then we lose our confidence equally easily.
Will the Manchester weather assist them, perhaps shortening a chase to a five-over thrash? Nope. The forecast, surprisingly for a gloomy city, is excellent. There is only a five per cent chance of rain throughout.
Still, a repeat of game two would do nicely. If Pakistan can get going with the bat again - and Babar Azam and Mohammad Hafeez look in great touch - we can foresee an in-play wager on the host from [1.80].
Hasnain in a hurry
For the second game in succession top-bat king Babar has made a fifty and not copped. Sportsbook boost his price from 6/4 to 2/1.
This time next year we will probably be rushing to back Hasnain for top bolwer honours at 10/3. He's a gun. Although the study period isn't long enough for purists, there's nothing wrong with a wager purely on the eye.
Back England in-play bat 2nd at [1.80] or better