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May 5, 2010
Match FactsThursday, May 6, Bridgetown
The Big Picture
If Twenty20 cricket is routinely unpredictable, played by England and Pakistan it's an absolute lottery. No sooner had England treated their fans to a fearless run-fest against West Indies than they were grinding out a tetchy 121 against Ireland. Similarly, Pakistan, the defending champions, put on an assured performance to beat Bangladesh by 21 runs but were completely outgunned by Australia a day later. It's no surprise, then, that the last time these sides met, in Dubai in February, the series was shared one apiece.
Given South Africa's patchy form Group E is wide open and the conditions in Barbados should suit the positive style both Pakistan and England prefer. Shahid Afridi's rigid captaincy, sticking to a dressing-room plan to bowl Mohammad Hafeez in spite of the evidence did as much as anything to undermine his side's hopes against Australia. Pakistan need Afridi to bring the freedom he plays with to his leadership if Pakistan are to threaten England's batting.
England, for their part, remain untested in the field. Their punt on Ryan Sidebottom's left-arm angle has failed to come off in two brief outings and on the faster surface in Barbados he may find himself under pressure from James Anderson. The one man who seems almost certain to deliver is Eoin Morgan. His rise in the limited-overs format has coincided with England's and he could prove the difference.
Form guide (most recent first)England: LWLWW
Watch out for...
While Mohammad Hafeez's spin didn't come off against Australia, Saeed Ajmal showed, once again, how strong he is in this format. He has one of the best doosras in the game and is up against a line-up that, historically at least, prefers pace on the ball.
Coming off the back of an electrifying IPL experience, Kevin Pietersen was sure to set the World Twenty20 alight. Yet two games and two identical dismissals later, we're still waiting for that barnstorming knock. The bouncy track and lively pace attack should get him ticking.
Mohammad Sami was destroyed by Australia, which will surely point the Pakistan selectors in the direction of Mohammad Asif, who, it should be remembered, has an impressive record against Kevin Pietersen.
Pakistan (probable) 1 Salman Butt, 2 Kamran Akmal (wk), 3 Shahid Afridi (capt), 4 Abdul Razzaq, 5 Misbah-ul-Haq, 6 Mohammad Hafeez, 7 Umar Akmal, 8 Fawad Alam, 9 Mohammad Asif, 10 Mohammad Aamer, 11 Saeed Ajmal.
With Pietersen still available, England's only issue is their fast bowling, with James Anderson looking likely to step in for Ryan Sidebottom.
England (probable) 1 Michael Lumb, 2 Craig Kieswetter, 3 Kevin Pietersen, 4 Paul Collingwood (capt), 5 Eoin Morgan, 6 Luke Wright, 7 Michael Yardy, 8 Tim Bresnan, 9 Graeme Swann, 10 Stuart Broad, 11 James Anderson.
Pitch and conditionsThe Barbados pitch is the best in the Caribbean, with proper pace and bounce, and some grip for the spinners. It's the kind of pitch that should produce the best cricket, though batsmen should be wary after the low-scoring encounters on Wednesday.
Stats and trivia
Quotes"We're very thankful to have him."
What Australia have not done since returning a fractured unit from India is head back to Asia to play an Asian team. Two of their major weaknesses - handling spin and reverse swing - will be tested in the UAE by Pakistan
Stats highlights from the fourth ODI between India and West Indies in Dharamsala
Players demanding that home pitches should be prepared to favour them don't realise it's a retaliatory business
ESPNcricinfo runs the rule over the preparation of all 16 Australia players ahead of the first Test, which starts in Dubai on Wednesday