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World record strip to be used for England-Pakistan match

Bowlers from both sides could be forgiven for letting out a little groan, or perhaps even clasping an imaginary hamstring strain, after news that Monday's match between England and Pakistan is to be played on a surface renowned for vast scores.

Yes, England's second World Cup game will be played on the same pitch on which they have twice broken the record for highest ODI score, amassing 481 for 6 against Australia last year and 444 for 3 against Pakistan in 2016. It is two away from the strip used on Friday, when Pakistan were bounced out for 105, and, in short, probably the best batting surface in the world for ODI cricket at present.

This tournament may prove just a little different, though. Early indications suggest the early starts - most matches begin at 10.30am to maximise the peak hours for an Asian TV audience - may have shifted the balance in such encounters just a little bit back towards the bowlers. Vast scores are still likely, but talk of reaching 500 may prove premature if the sides batting first have to adopt a slightly more circumspect start to their innings.

Perhaps the hostility of the bowlers may be a factor, too. Certainly, in the opening few games we have seen the short ball used a little more than was expected, and with some success. Not only were Pakistan blown away by West Indies, but Jofra Archer troubled several South Africa batsmen with his short ball. While bowling short is hardly revolutionary, it could a tactic that increases in prevalence again during this World Cup just as delivering wide yorkers or slower balls became features of previous tournaments. It is remarkable to think that some of the best seamers in the first three World Cups - Joel Garner, for example - rarely bowled a slower ball.

Given how Pakistan played - or didn't play - the short ball on Friday, there is sure to be some temptation for England to add Mark Wood to the attack that fared so well the previous day. Wood, who at his best is every bit as quick as Archer, bowled at full pace in training in Nottingham on Saturday and is said to be fit and available for selection. But Liam Plunkett, who would be the most likely candidate to make way for him, enjoyed a fine all-round game on Thursday and would be unfortunate to miss out. Neither Chris Woakes (five overs) nor Archer (seven) bowled their full allocation, so are expected to be fit and fresh to play again.

"I think playing Wood will be discussed," Graham Thorpe, the England batting coach, said. "We're aware of what went on here on Friday. We saw West Indies go pretty hard at Pakistan. The captain will make a call on it."

There is every chance England will be on the receiving end of some hostile fast bowling at some stage, too. While West Indies and Australia look especially capable of adopting such a tactic, there is plenty of pace in the Pakistan, squad. To that end, the England batsmen have faced a fair bit of Archer and Wood in the nets and appreciate that it is a tactic - like opponents opening the bowling with spin - for which they must be prepared.

"Wood and Archer let it go at our guys, too," Thorpe said. "It's good preparation for them. We talk about what you have to be good at and, generally, playing pace and spin is high on the agenda. We had spoken about the possibility of teams starting with spin. So sometimes in training, our players will start against spin and sometimes they'll start against pace. They have to be prepared for everything."

Despite the pre-tournament talk about huge totals, Thorpe was actually most impressed by the manner in which England adapted to a slightly more demanding surface in their first match. It is not a skill they have they have always shown, so to have managed it under pressure in such a high-profile game has given the side confidence.

"We've come a cropper a couple of times in the last year or two," Thorpe said. "And we've spoken about it. But you can talk about it all the time, you've got to put it into action as well. So it was pleasing we managed to adapt and the guys are really proud of that.

"We didn't quite unlock the door in terms of our batting at The Oval. We couldn't really let go, because we kept losing wickets at crucial times. We had to keep trying to put on those mini-partnerships and that was really good of us to do that.

"But this [Trent Bridge] has generally been a good ground to play at over the years. It has generally always been a good pitch. So the guys are excited. They are looking forward to it."

Well, the batsmen anyway. Despite the early starts and prevalence of the short ball, it still promises to be a tough game for bowlers.