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Top-order options, and Powerplay woes - six T20 talking points for England

Six talking points after England were held to a 1-1 draw in their T20I series against Pakistan

George Dobell
George Dobell
Wahab Riaz ran out Chris Jordan from a horizontal position  •  Getty Images

Wahab Riaz ran out Chris Jordan from a horizontal position  •  Getty Images

After England were held to a 1-1 draw in their T20I series against Pakistan, we look at six talking points from the series
Top-order depth
As things stand, it seems England intend to use Jos Buttler at the top of the order in T20I cricket. That means Jonny Bairstow, Jason Roy, Tom Banton and Dawid Malan are all competing for a couple of spots in the top three. And we haven't even mentioned Joe Root who, but for a last-over miracle, would have been named Player of the Match in the last World T20 final.
It seems incredible that Malan, who reached 50 seven times in his first 12 T20I innings, and Banton, who looks a hugely promising player, might be struggling for a place in the squad. But with Butter pencilled in and Bairstow and Roy established, there are going to be some very disappointed players when England do finally settle on a World Cup squad.
Middle-order issues
In Eoin Morgan England have one batsman they can rely upon to float between No. 4 and No. 6 as required. In Ben Stokes they have another. But there is still a vacancy for one batting spot in the middle-order. One solution would be to move Buttler back to where he began. While that might not maximise his own potential, England are blessed with several good top-order options and many fewer 'finishers'. And it would certainly go some way to solving their top-order selection headaches. Sam Billings wasn't quite able to take the opportunity here; he scored 39 in his three innings - albeit one of them was not out - and averages 17.59 across his 29-match T20I career.
England's Powerplay bowling
Heading into the final match of this series, England had taken just one wicket in the Powerplay overs in their four T20s this year. Although they took two here - one to Moeen Ali's spin - the point remains: unless they are able to strike more in those opening overs, opposition teams are liable to establish strong platforms. Against the best sides, that will prove a fatal weakness. In this series Saqib Mahmood, who finished wicketless across his seven overs, was unable to take his opportunity to impress.
It seems odd that David Willey, in particular, was overlooked in this series and not selected for the games against Australia. Not only would his left-arm angle have provided some variation, but his T20 Powerplay record is exceptionally good. He also looked in decent form with bat and ball in the ODIs against Ireland.
The need for speed; or variation, at least
In the absence of Mark Wood and Jofra Archer, England looked a little one-paced at times in this series. Whatever the all-round merits of Lewis Gregory and Tom Curran, neither were able to take their chance here, with Chris Jordan the pick of England's seamers. With Wood, Archer and Stokes all set to return when England pick their strongest side, it could prove hard for Curran or Gregory to retain their places.
Rashid reliance
Adil Rashid has long been a vital player for England in white-ball cricket. While Moeen was picked in all three of these games, he delivered only two overs and, even though Rashid wasn't at his best - he conceded an average of 10.28 runs per over - the fact is that, with Liam Dawson and Matt Parkinson not deemed fit for selection, the back-up spinner in the squad was Joe Denly, who has taken 31 wickets in his 206-game T20 career. The conclusion? There is still a vacancy for a spinner in the squad that England will take to India for the T20 World Cup. Could Root have a role to play as back-up spinner and floating batsman?
Moeen could still provide many of the answers
Moeen had looked in miserable form coming into this match. He had reached double-figures with the bat only five times in 19 innings (and 20 only twice) across formats (four innings in Tests, five in T20Is and 10 in ODIs); a spell that included five ducks. He has also bowled his full allocation of overs only once in his last seven international limited-overs matches across formats. But here he provided a reminder of his ability with an excellent innings of 61 that kept England in the hunt until the final couple of overs. Maybe we shouldn't have been surprised. This is a man who was good enough to score four Test centuries within eight months in 2016 and has three ODI centuries as well. If England can find a way to unlock his undoubted talent on a more consistent basis, they still have a valuable all-rounder to help balance the side.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo