After one each white wash in tests and ODIs to both England and Pakistan, sides went into the T20 series with plenty to play for. Importance of the this series was swelled owing to fact that the eagerly awaited T20 WC in Sri Lanka is just at 6 months length. Every T20 game is gold dust right now for every side till the WC T20 because as opposed to ODI WC teams do not get enough games to work out their different plans and even best playing XI.
Series ended up with trademark Dernbach back of hand slow ball which was missed all together by Misbah to ignite a wild celebration from tall depth specialist. It would have been a real shock to know for someone who missed the game after 15th overs of run chase but it was that kind of pitch where nobody got going, even Pietersen had to grind it out in the middle which proved to be the real difference at the end. Though I still believe like everyone else with 36 off 30 several wickets in hand, Pakistan should have cruised home. Like always Misbah has found himself in the line fire of all the criticism but I believe it was more Umar Akmal’s useless swings cross the line against Broad and Dernbach that did the damage. It has become fashion in Pakistan to hate Misbah though I am myself very critical of goat hearted captaincy but I think Misbah gets too much undue criticism on his batting. In every second match, he finds himself in middle of batting collapse and he has to bat with responsibly to dig the side out of hole unlike others who come in their flair, hit a few and get out. Once Broad bowled excellent penultimate over, game was done and dusted, 13 off Dernbach is too stiffer task with his change of pace and good yorker for any batsman especially when you are just walking as was Afridi.
Both England and Pakistan has to address many grey areas if they want to make something out of this year’s World T20. Batting of both sides looked anything but ordinary; many will argue that both batting orders were up against the best bowling attacks in T20. Pakistan without the slightest of doubt is the best bowling attack at T20. With Ajmal in his form of life, he dearly will like make amends to last T20 WC over that he bowled. Gull might have been tabbed a bit in last two games but everyone knows, he will be roaring back with reversing yorkers.
Pakistan needs Afridi to be in his element once the tournament kicks off; he looked below par surprisingly, dishing up half volleys and juicy full tosses every now and then. Cunny Hafeez is an excellent option to have in the armory but weak link is 2nd fast bowler, Cheema looked good yesterday but on good pitch he can go a distance. I think both Junaid and Wahab can be better bid considering their yorker length ability. Hammad in the side provides another option, so bowling looks all covered up for Pakistan but batting is in tatters right now. Ahmed Shehzad deserves to have a go; he is the man in form. Keeping with Umar is a ridiculous move, it is better to have Kamran back than it. At least, Kamran has better probability to pluck a few and with his red hot batting form, it will be even more tempting to do so. Misbah’s captaincy at least in shorter formats is pathetic; probably selector will have to give a call at this matter. Most importantly, attitude of Umar and Afridi has to improve to me this will decide Pakistan’s chances.
England might be victorious but they are not short of pondering to do on T20 scheme of things. In bowling for sure Dernbach and Swan are the main men. Dernbach is already in top depth bowlers, he is not easy to hit out, England might gain more from him by bowling him all at depth. Broad could be man to share new ball with Finn. Broad with his excellent upright seam has more chance to do the damage with new ball at the same time Dernbach can use his strengths i.e. slow balls and yorkers more at depth like Gull does. Finn and Patel are the weak links and men to target for other sides. Finn has the pace and his direction can be worry sometimes but they have very capable option in Bresnan waiting. KP’s bursting back in form is wonderful for England prospective but middle order looks a stiff one. Morgan had a woeful tour, he is very important for England in T20. He has to come back into form otherwise it will be sad long story for England. No one has any doubt in abilities of Buttler and Bairstrow, it looks tall order in alien conditions in Sub-Continent against turning ball, may be few good hits in the home conditions can do good to their confidence in upcoming games. Swapping batting order might work for England to counter it i.e. dropping KP to 3 and opening with Hales as happened in last T20 WC in Caribbean.
Good news for both sides is that there are few T20 games in between to fine tune the playing XI before mega event kick off. Certainly both sides are far from the point where they will want to be.