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Stuart Dalgleish 12th Feb 2012 - 20:54

England need different strokes from the same folks

Pakistan v England series preview - starts 11:00 live on Sky Sports 1

England's plan before their tour of the UAE started was to cement their position as world number one Test team, then improve their limited-overs form ahead of the ICC World Twenty20 at the end of the year.

That hasn't quite gone according to plan.

Humbled 3-0 in the Tests, England (an industry leading 7/2 to win the series) now need to overcome some demons if they're ever to succeed in these conditions.

Pakistan's (Evens, a drawn series is 15/8) spinners have turned England inside out over the last month, and they're set to add to their bowling attack in the shape of a short-form legend.

The return of Shahid Afridi (11/4 top Pakistan series bowler, 12/1 top Pakistan series batsman) will only further boost the confidence of a nation that is once again proud of their beloved cricket team.

'Boom Boom' is one-of-a-kind, he can sulk, he doesn't even bother turning up for anything over 50 overs and he can court controversy on any given day - but more importantly he can turn a game in the blink of an eye.

He was player of the tournament in the first ever World Twenty20, then led Pakistan to glory in the same competition two years later with MOTM performances in the semis and the final; if he's on his game again in these four ODIs, it's difficult to see anything over than a Pakistan win.

England need to find the answers to the questions that were repeatedly thrown at them, how do they handle Asian pitches?

Ian Bell didn't know, and he's subsequently been dropped for this series, Kevin Pietersen (7/2 top England series batsman) and Eoin Morgan (5/1) were just as clueless but they live to fight another day.

These two players really need a big response in these four games, or else one if not both will surely miss out on the two-Test series with Sri Lanka that follows this tour.

Pietersen has had it labelled at him that he only turns up in the big matches, like the Ashes and England's successful World Twenty20 campaign; so if he considers this series big enough then hopefully we can see fireworks from the big man, but if the crowds don't turn up then he might not turn up either.

Morgan's place you would argue is more under threat than KP, simply because he's not as permanent a fixture, several times he has stepped up to the plate in limited-overs games though and I think he could thrive in this tour yet.

There will be a few changes in the batting department, Craig Kieswetter (11/2) comes in for Matt Prior, then I imagine Ravi Bopara (6/1) will be Bell's replacement, Jos Butler (12/1) has created a lot of hype but I think they might go with Tim Bresnan (66/1 bat, 9/2 bowler) lower down the order to help him regain fitness.

England's bowling attack should have several changes; Jimmy Anderson (4/1) has been in and out of the limited-overs team, but perhaps because he was arguably the least effective bowler in the Tests they might give him this series to get his line back.

Stuart Broad (7/2) and Graeme Swann (3/1) are constants in all forms so they will surely be involved, it is the two other spots that I'm not certain on.

Jade Dernbach (7/1) has impressed me whenever I've seen him over the last 18 months and I'm sure he'll be a key component of the attack, Steven Finn (5/1) is always back-up in the Test team but he's featuring a lot more in the ODIs, with the nature of the pitches though, England might be tempted to put Samit Patel (7/1) in there instead.

Whatever team England put out, they're going to be in for a really tough series, I don't think they're going to get whitewashed again (4-0 Pakistan is 5/1), but a defeat looks on the cards.

Pakistan v England 1st ODI

 
 
 

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