PAK vs ENG: What options Babar XI have to impact host's firepower?

Much-anticipated series will be crucial for both sides' preparations for T20 World Cup 2024

By
Sports Desk
Pakistan skipper Babar Azam takes part in preparations ahead of T20I series against England at Headingley Cricket Ground, Leeds, May 21, 2024. — X/@TheRealPCB

After an energising victory over Ireland, Pakistan will face a tough opponent — England — in a four-match T20I series, commencing on May 22 in Leeds ahead of the big event of the T20 World Cup 2024 next month.

This much-anticipated series will be crucial for both sides' preparations for the T20 World Cup 2024, scheduled to take place in the USA and the West Indies in June.

Pakistan are coming with a 2-1 series win against Ireland where skipper Babar Azam stepped up in the final game and scored 42-ball 75 and led his side to victory.

Prior to that, they hosted a second-string New Zealand side at home, resulting in a 2-2 draw after rain affected the series opener.

The Men in Green have a number of options in their squad, particularly since Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir, and Imad Wasim are back in the team.

They also have batters like Saim Ayub, Fakhar Zaman and Iftikhar Ahmed among their ranks, who can dismantle the opposition on their best days.

Moreover, Shaheen Afridi's recent form has been a significant boost for Pakistan. The ace fast bowler, who was dismissed as Pakistan's T20I captain after a brief stint, had not been performing at his best until his recent exploits against New Zealand and Ireland helped him regain his confidence.

On the other hand, prominent England stars such as Phil Salt, Will Jacks, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, and Moeen Ali are returning from IPL 2024, where they delivered outstanding individual performances.

With Salt's impact as an opener and Jonny Bairstow back in the mix, it will be intriguing to see how England arrange their playing XI. They have an abundance of options, which is undoubtedly a good headache for England.

Pacer Jofra Archer is returning after a gap of 14 months, and this will be a crucial test for the forgotten hero to secure his place regularly ahead of the mega event.

Likely lineups

Pakistan: Saim Ayub, Mohammad Rizwan, Babar Azam (c), Fakhar Zaman, Shadab Khan, Azam Khan (wk), Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah, Mohammad Amir

England: Jos Buttler (c), Phil Salt (wk), Will Jacks, Harry Brook, Liam Livingstone, Moeen Ali, Sam Curran, Adil Rashid, Jofra Archer, Mark Wood, Reece Topley

Prediction

Both sides have firepower in their ranks but considering the home advantage, England is expected to take a 1-0 lead in this series.