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Dominant England seek another show of strength

Match Facts

Saturday, August 27, Lord's
Start time 10.30am (0930GMT)

The Big Picture

The rain that swept in for the closing stages of Wednesday's first ODI provided an anticlimactic finale for a packed ensemble at the Ageas Bowl, but not even the weather could disguise another formidable show of all-round strength from an England one-day team that is starting to look like something really rather special.

Unbeaten in ODIs this summer, ever since Liam Plunkett's six at Trent Bridge swiped a tie in their opening game against Sri Lanka in June, England have showcased the sort of depth and balance that would be the envy of a Russian synchronised swimming team.

At no stage in Pakistan's somewhat old-school grind to 260 for 6 did they ever look like setting a total that would trouble an extraordinarily confident England line-up, and if Jason Roy's dizzy spell was an alarming moment in an otherwise serene chase, then his brief disorientation was nothing compared to the spin that his power-packed innings had already inflicted on his opponents.

England, therefore, are surely ripe for a fall. Nothing guarantees an English comeuppance more readily than the suggestion that they have finally cracked one format or another (the prosecution calls for its first witness: the fourth Test at The Oval). And if any team is capable of penetrating England's wall of allrounders in their batting ranks, it is Pakistan with players such as Wahab Riaz or the surely-to-be-recalled Yasir Shah, whose individual bursts of brilliance can transcend mere circumstance.

But even on the bowling front, the evidence from the opening ODI is that England have the edge. Mark Wood's stunning speed on his return to action provided a point of difference that Wahab, for one, couldn't emulate this time out, while Joe Root's cheeky allsorts offspin - and the early wicket of Mohammad Hafeez - epitomised the confidence coursing through England's one-day ranks. And there's variety in their depth as well. In Adil Rashid, they possess one of the most reliable legspinners in modern one-day cricket - his new-found control, allied to an always deceptive googly, makes him extraordinarily hard to dominate.

However, domination is what Pakistan may require to get back on level terms in this series. Their batting in the first match was undermined by a very untimely rain delay after 42 overs that swiped the momentum from a promising stand between Sarfraz Ahmed and Shoaib Malik, and arguably cost them 20-30 runs in the final reckoning. But even a total in the region of 300 might not have been sufficient to deter England's advances.

That said, there's no knowing how unsettled England's players will be following last night's security briefing ahead of their forthcoming tour of Bangladesh. The tour is set to go ahead, but one or two players will surely be harbouring a few doubts about travelling in spite of the ECB's efforts to allay their fears. They'll need to push all such thoughts to the backs of their minds if they want to continue their upward surge.

Form guide

(completed matches, most recent first)
England WWWWT
Pakistan LWLLL

In the spotlight

If Alex Hales is enduring something of an ebb in form and fortune, then his opening partner, Jason Roy, is positively flowing at present. He put his funny turn at the Ageas Bowl down to a lack of sugar, but he could not have timed the ball any sweeter in rampaging to 65 from 56 balls, and a summer's tally of 381 runs from 320 balls, at an average of 95.25 and a strike rate of six runs every five balls. In between whiles he has clocked up his first first-class century of the summer, for Surrey against Middlesex on this very ground three weeks ago, to drop a subtle hint that his talents and technique need not be confined to white-ball cricket forever.

Mohammad Amir's summer has been one of intermittent highs and lengthy periods of frustration. On Wednesday he watched yet another chance go down off his bowling - Sarfraz spilling a top-edge from Roy to add to the seven drops that Amir endured during the Tests. It cannot help that his every move has been scrutinised all summer long, and there's little question that he is struggling for form in a way that he rarely experienced during his comet-like first coming as a teenager. But now, with the circus moving back to the scene of his mis-steps in 2010, he has another opportunity to charge in and let rip. If he was palpably nervous on his first return to Lord's during the Test match, then maybe, with the emotion of that day behind him, he'll emerge from the pavilion feeling rather more liberated by the occasion.

Team news

David Willey remains out of contention with his hand injury, but Chris Jordan would be raring to go after a successful recent spell for Sussex although Wood's impressive comeback makes changes seem unlikely. Ben Stokes will play as a batsman once again as he continues his injury comeback, while Root's successful spell at the Ageas Bowl means that Liam Dawson is surely superfluous as a third spinning option. If he isn't selected, Jonny Bairstow is likely to be released for Yorkshire's Royal London semi-final against Surrey on Sunday.

England (probable) 1 Alex Hales, 2 Jason Roy, 3 Joe Root, 4 Eoin Morgan (capt), 5 Ben Stokes, 6 Jos Buttler (wk), 7 Moeen Ali, 8 Chris Woakes, 9 Adil Rashid, 10 Liam Plunkett, 11 Mark Wood

Yasir Shah was overlooked for the first match in favour of the greater control that Imad Wasim's left-arm tweakers were able to impose, particular in the Powerplays. But Pakistan surely won't be making that same mistake again. They need wickets by the bucketload if they want to keep England's batsmen under wraps, and Yasir has a presence that cannot be under-estimated - especially after his heroics in last month's Test win. Mohammad Amir will have to come through a fitness test after leaving the field in Southampton with a side problem.

Pakistan (possible) 1 Sharjeel Khan, 2 Azhar Ali (capt), 3 Mohammad Hafeez, 4 Babar Azam, 5 Shoaib Malik, 6 Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), 7 Mohammad Nawaz/Imad Wasim, 8 Wahab Riaz, 9 Umar Gul, 10 Yasir Shah, 11 Mohammad Amir

Pitch and conditions

There is a bit of grass at present on another typically true Lord's pitch, which may tempt England to contemplate an extra seamer in place of Moeen Ali, whose bowling has been a bit subdued in recent weeks. But then again, the baking hot weather in London at present will surely persuade them otherwise. Another high-scoring contest seems on the cards.

Stats and trivia

  • England have recently lost that winning feeling in Test cricket at Lord's, but it's nothing new where their one-day fortunes are concerned. They've been beaten in their last three ODIs at HQ, with their most recent win coming against South Africa in 2012.

  • Pakistan also won their most recent ODI at Lord's, beating England by 38 runs in an emotionally charged contest soon after the 2010 spot-fixing saga, perhaps best remembered from an altercation in the nets between Wahab and Jonathan Trott.

  • Jos Buttler, who did not bat on Wednesday, still needs 22 runs for 2000 in ODIs - he has the highest strike-rate of the year (126.51) of any batsman with more than 200 runs

Quotes

"It's tricky for us at the moment, we've got a game tomorrow and international cricket needs your full focus to perform well. It's down to us to try and put those things to one side, the decision has been made by the board and now we get on with the job in hand."
Jos Buttler recognises the need to put the Bangladesh security situation to one side ahead of tomorrow's match.

"We're going to build a team we think can compete in a year or two's time. The invitation is there to every player: step up or we'll find somebody else who can step up, it's as simple as that."
Mickey Arthur lays down the challenge to his players