Pakistan will be up against England in a three-match T20I series starting from Friday. All three games will be played at Old Trafford, Manchester.
Although Pakistan have beaten England twice in one-off T20Is [in 2006 and 2016], they will be aiming to win their maiden bilateral series against England. Of the previous four series between the two, England have won three [3-0 in UAE in 2015, 2-1 in UAE in 2012 and 2-0 in the UK in 2010] and drawn one [1-1 in UAE in 2010]
The world number one T20 batsman will return to the venue where he received his T20I cap. Babar Azam made his T20I debut in Pakistan’s nine-wicket win over England at Old Trafford four years ago. He has loved playing in England since then.
With 578 runs for Somerset, he was the top run-getter in the T20 Blast, England’s domestic 20-over competition, last year. Of his three centuries in T20 cricket, two have come in England. One for Somerset in the T20 Blast 2019 and one for Pakistan in a warm-up fixture, with official T20 status, against Leicestershire in 2019.
Babar has played 16 T20s in the United Kingdom and amassed 759 runs at an average of 58.38, his highest in any country, and a strike-rate of 150.89. In addition to two centuries, he also has five half-centuries on these shores.
A three-nil win over England will see Pakistan jump to the second spot in the ICC Men’s T20I Team Rankings.
Currently placed at four, Pakistan will be looking to get close to the top position, which they lost earlier this year after the annual rankings update on 1 May. Pakistan were the number one T20 team for over two years during which they had a stretch of 11 consecutive T20I series wins.
Pakistan will take on England exactly on the same day (28 August) they made their T20I debut fourteen years ago. Then led by Inzamam-ul-Haq, Pakistan had played their first T20I against England at Bristol in 2006. Since, Pakistan have won 92 T20Is, the most by any team in Men’s T20Is.
They have fond memories of England and Manchester. It was in this country that they won the ICC T20 World Cup in 2009 after defeating Sri Lanka in the final at Lord’s whereas their only T20I at Old Trafford, Manchester – a one-off game against England in 2016 – resulted in a nine-wicket victory.
The two veteran all-rounders Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik will be eying some records in the series.
Malik needs 216 runs to replace Marin Guptill (2,536) as third-highest run-getter in the format. If he does it, he would be only behind Rohit Sharma (2,773) and Virat Kohli (2,794) in terms of runs.
The 38-year-old also needs 108 more to become only the third batsman in the world to 10,000 runs in 20-over cricket. At the moment, only two batsmen – Kieron Pollard (10,056) and Chris Gayle (13,296) – are in this exclusive club.
Hafeez (1,992) needs eight runs to become only the second Pakistan batsman and ninth in the world to reach 2,000 runs milestone. If he gets there, he would also become the first player in Men’s T20Is to register a double of 2,000 runs and 50 wickets.