Pakistan v England, 3rd ODI, Dubai February 17, 2012

England on verge of series success

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Match Facts

February 18, Dubai
Start time 1500 (1100 GMT)

The Big Picture

England's whitewash in the Tests was unexpected and so, too, is their current standing in the one-day series. They are already in an unassailable position following two victories in Abu Dhabi - spearheaded by Alastair Cook and Steven Finn - and a win in Dubai will give them a notable series victory which would buck the trend of their recent struggles away from home in this format.

And they hold the advantage despite only two batsmen firing. Cook has been outstanding with a pair of well-crafted hundreds and was well supported on both occasions by his Essex team-mate Ravi Bopara. The others still have significant issues to confront and it can't be left to the captain all the time. Unlike the batsmen, all the bowlers have played key roles and, as in Test cricket, England possess a fine attack.

Pakistan have plenty of issues to sort out. They appear short of a quality batsman and can't quite decide on the balance of their team. They have got one game left to find out some answers before it is too late to save the series.

Form guide

(Most recent first)

Pakistan LLWWW
England WWLLL

Watch out for...

Quietly Samit Patel is have a good few months for England. He didn't lose ground during the whitewash in India and has played a crucial part in the two victories here. His left-arm spin is proving hard to score off - only Afridi, briefly, took to him in Abu Dhabi - while he is selfless with the bat when needed and held a decent catch to remove the dangerous Umar Akmal in the second game. There could well be changes to England's Test squad for Sri Lanka and Patel has done himself no harm.

It took a month, but England finally managed to get through an innings without major damage against Saeed Ajmal during the second one-day international. Ajmal's figures of 1 for 54 were ordinary compared to his recent exploits, but it would be dangerous to suggest England are close to cracking him. It will be a surprise if he goes two consecutive matches with little impact.

Team news

Pakistan appear very unsure about what to do with their team, but the lower-order clearly needs to be strengthened. One option is to recall Shoaib Malik, who can also bowl some offspin, or bring in the young allrounder Hammad Azam. Either way it could be Abdur Rehman who makes away after a wicketless display in Abu Dhabi and a horrid 12-ball innings. They may also feel compelled to change the wicketkeeper after two poor games by Umar Akmal, but then balance becomes an issue.

Pakistan (possible) 1 Mohammad Hafeez, 2 Imran Farhat, 3 Azhar Ali, 4 Younis Khan, 5 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), 6 Umar Akmal (wk), 7 Hammad Azam, 8 Shahid Afridi, 9 Umar Gul, 10 Saeed Ajmal, 11 Aizaz Cheema

England have a fully fit squad to select from for the first time in the series so it's a question of whether they want any rotation. James Anderson could make way for Tim Bresnan but it would be tough on Anderson who bowled well in the second match. Kevin Pietersen remains under pressure.

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

Pitch and conditions

A sandstorm caused significant issues for England's training session and the players were forced to wear sunglasses. The wind is due to be strong again on match-day so there could yet be a few problems. The pitch is unlikely to differ much from what has been on offer throughout the tour.

Stats and trivia

  • No England batsman has scored three consecutive one-day international hundreds

  • James Anderson became England's leading wicket-taker against Pakistan during the previous match

  • Pakistan's batsmen have yet to score a half-century in the series

Quotes

"Cooky's such a good player, who is fulfilling his role in the team really, really well. You can't complain when you get two hundreds in successive games."
Kevin Pietersen was full of praise for his captain.

"England have performed very well in both ODIs. They have beaten us in every department."
Misbah-ul-Haq knows where Pakistan need to improve. Everywhere.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dummy4fb on February 18, 2012, 14:49 GMT

    one of the commenter shared very sensible option that azhar ali started his carreer as a spinner so he can bowl decent 5 6 overs plus for the second seamer position hammad azam is not bad option so our playing 11 will get rid of too lenghty tail .Farhat and malik should be replaced as soon as possible .as from available players my 11 should be 1.hafeez 2.farhat 3.azhar 4.umar 5.younis 6. misbah 7 shafik 8. afridi 9. hammad 10.ajmal 11.gul

  • dummy4fb on February 18, 2012, 10:56 GMT

    one of the commenter shared very sensible option that azhar ali started his carreer as a spinner so he can bowl decent 5 6 overs plus for the second seamer position hammad azam is not bad option so our playing 11 will get rid of too lenghty tail .Farhat and malik should be replaced as soon as possible .as from available players my 11 should be 1.hafeez 2.farhat 3.azhar 4.umar 5.younis 6. misbah 7 shafik 8. afridi 9. hammad 10.ajmal 11.gul

  • dummy4fb on February 18, 2012, 10:16 GMT

    Pak will win if bowlers performs OR they bring Umar Akmal & #Afridi in top 5 ..... otherwise if top order don't perform then Ali, Younis & Misbah never gave good situation for Umar & Afridi to performs, umar & Afridi always come in difficult and all Pakistan want them to perform miracle ......

  • Sumra_cric_lover on February 18, 2012, 9:55 GMT

    In my opinion the team for todays match should be 1) Muhammad Hafeez 2) Asad Shafiq 3) Younis Khan 4) Umar Akmal 5) Misbah-ul-Haq 6) Shahid Afridi 7) Adnan Akmal 8) Hammad Azam 9) Umar Gul 10) Saeed Ajmal 11) Aizaz Cheema. This is the right combinantion with excellent balance and the specialist keeper in the team plus depth in the batting (batsmen till No.8) and a lot of bowling options (3 Spinners, 3 seamers).

  • dummy4fb on February 18, 2012, 9:46 GMT

    Pakistan has forgot ,how to play the ODI's,Their opening pair is pathetic,and when they chase,they play recklessly ,they don't have any specific plans.Give Youngsters a chance,Hammad azam should replace one of the openers,mostly farhad.Misbah plays like test cricket.The world is changing and playing aggressive cricket,and Misbah plays like early 80's ODI cricket.it looks funny,bring on youngsters,pack the old legs to home ..he he he !!!

  • dummy4fb on February 18, 2012, 9:41 GMT

    I think there is no need of Umar Gul in ODI for Pakistan Team. Selection Committee should give a chance to another fast bowler. Pakistani Team needs consistence performance not ten out of one. So Gul please take some rest and think about your performance and the other player gets a chance to perform.

  • dummy4fb on February 18, 2012, 8:56 GMT

    My team for 3rd Odi 1-Hafeez, 2-Asad Shafiq, 3-Younis Khan, 4- Azhar Ali, 5-Misbah-ul-Haq, 6-Umar Akmal, 7- Adnan Akmal, 8- Shahid Afridi, 9- Umar Gul, 10- Saeed Ajmal, 11- Aizaz Cheema

    We still have five specialist bowlers Gul, Ajmal, Cheema, Afridi and Hafeez (2nd in the Top ODI bowlers). Adnan can still hang around with the bat while Asad Shafiq has been opening the innings in domestic cricket. We certainly need more batting strength

  • khurramsch on February 18, 2012, 8:51 GMT

    yes balnace of pak team is not right. in 2nd odi 5 man tail. yes i will consider afridi as half in tail.but stil they were in chase & messed it up. they just needed to b cool at 44 required of 36 but afridi madly swings. the reason for this tail is that pak never thought to develop a meduim pace allrounder after razak.last year they played many small teams but never bothered to try couple of medium allrounder.now they can boost batting by selecting hammad as a second seamer if they want 4 spinners. also apart from hafez, umar akmal, & sometimes afridi all others in top 7 are same slow paced which will effect in run chase.

  • dummy4fb on February 18, 2012, 8:41 GMT

    It is important to have a quality wicket keeper in the side. Pakistan must play Adnan Akmal and send Umar Akmal up the order, may be at number 4. My Team:

    Hafeez, Azhar, Umar, younus, Misbah, Shafiq, Afridi, Adnan, Gul, Ajmal and any of the rest three fast bowlers, Riyaz/Cheema/Junaid

  • Behind_the_Wicket on February 18, 2012, 8:31 GMT

    Pakistan is going to lose again , All Test Players are playing ODI can't increase run rate and in the last Afridi and Akmal have to play wild shots in this situation they lost their wickets. ( Misbah , Azhar and Younas should play only test cricket)

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