Pakistan v England, 2nd ODI, Abu Dhabi February 14, 2012

England look for further release

Match facts

Wednesday, February 15, Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi
Start time 1500 (1100 GMT)

Big Picture

Immediately after the opening match attention turned largely to England: they found release from a troubled Test series with victory by 130 runs; Alastair Cook underlined himself once more as a captain eminently capable of adapting to 50-over cricket with an unflustered century compiled at almost a run a ball; and Steve Finn's fast-bowling development was clear to see as his four new-ball wickets confirmed England's superiority.

But what of Pakistan? Their batting vulnerabilities were masked as their spinners dominated the Test series but they were apparent again as they found Finn's opening burst impossible to contain. Bowl straight and full at Pakistan's top order, England have concluded, and you will prosper. If Pakistan take note of Cook's innings they may be tempted to ask Azhar Ali or Asad Shafiq to try to play a similar stabilising role.

Form guide

(Most recent first)
Pakistan: LWWWW
England: WLLLL

Players to watch

It was easy to see why the Pakistan captain, Misbah-ul-Haq, was tempted to call for Shoaib Malik to return to the squad. Pakistan need to shore up a long tail and England's vulnerability against spin has been so apparent that it is tempting to take the view that the more spinners the better. But Shoaib played with little verve in the opening game and on that evidence will be fortunate to survive the series.

If you missed Steven Finn's audition on Monday to be viewed as one of an exciting crop of new fast bowlers then don't make the mistake again. Finn was the stock answer to the "can you take any positives out of this?" cliché as England were drubbed 5-0 in India in October. Pakistan will not want him to get another opportunity to bowl under the lights as the dew enlivens the pitch.

Team news

Umar Akmal strained his back during the first match which must make him a doubt, especially to keep wicket, a role he fills modestly at best. Umar was once accused of overplaying a back injury to get his brother, Kamran, back behind the stumps. This time another brother, Adnan, could deputise. Shoaib Malik would be vulnerable in a shake-up.

England could bring in Tim Bresnan for batting depth and that would put James Anderson's place under threat. Jade Dernbach might have to wait for his chance until Dubai.

Pakistan (probable) 1 Mohammad Hafeez, 2 Imran Farhat, 3 Asad Shafiq, 4 Younis Khan, 5 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), 6 Umar Akmal, 7 Adnam Akmal (wk), 8 Shahid Afridi, 9 Umar Gul, 10 Saeed Ajmal, 11 Wahab Riaz

England (probable) 1 Alastair Cook (capt), 2 Kevin Pietersen, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Ravi Bopara, 5 Eoin Morgan, 6 Craig Kieswetter (wk), 7 Samit Patel, 8 Tim Bresnan, 9 Stuart Broad, 10 Graeme Swann, 11 Steven Finn

Pitch and conditions

The evidence of the first game points to a simple decision to bat first upon winning the toss, post 250-plus and then rely on new-ball wickets when evening dew freshens an otherwise benign surface.

Stats and trivia

  • Alastair Cook became the first England batsman to outscore the opposition in an ODI on Monday. His 137 beat Pakistan by seven runs.
  • England win bucked a losing trend of nine defeats in 10 matches across all formats and an equally demoralising run of 11 defeats in 12 overseas ODIs.
  • England have drawn level with Pakistan in fifth position in the ODI rankings. Both teams are on 107 points, three adrift of fourth-placed Sri Lanka.
  • Pakistan's 130 was their lowest ODI score since they were bowled out for 124 against New Zealand in Wellington in January 2011 and New Zealand needed only 17.2 overs to win the match. Pakistan went on to win the series 3-2.


"Happy Valentines Day everyone. Me and @StuartBroad8 will be having a romantic dinner tonight."
Steve Finn, England's fast bowler, does his best on Twitter to sound lovelorn on a long tour.

"I hope there is no panic. We should not panic because we have not batted badly in the last four or five matches so we need to try our best and put Monday's performance behind us."
Younis Khan, Pakistan batsman and former captain, appeals for calm.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo