After a convincing 2-0 ODI series win against Sri Lanka, England’s white ball attention now turns to the visit of sixth-ranked ODI side Pakistan for a three-match series at Cardiff, Lord’s and Edgbaston.

England will have to contend with the loss of their entire squad from the Sri Lanka series, who are having to self-isolate. The returning Ben Stokes will lead a youthful England side that features nine uncapped players at ODI level, including the likes of Zak Crawley and Dan Lawrence who have made their Test bows in recent years.

We offer our preview ahead of what is a massive opportunity for several fringe players with the first ODI taking place on Thursday.

Opportunity knocks for England replacements

Whilst losing several of their key players will disrupt the England camp massively, it gives them ample opportunity to show the strength in depth they now have in this ODI squad. The likes of Dawid Malan, who has been prolific for England in T20 cricket, and James Vince, who has played in all three formats, have plenty of international experience with the bat and will be hoping to make an impact at the top of the order.

The less experienced options in the batting line-up will see in-form Surrey all-rounder Will Jacks get his opportunity at international level, alongside Nottinghamshire’s Ben Duckett as well as the aforementioned Crawley and Lawrence, with Sussex’s Phil Salt another exciting potential option to open the batting.

With the ball, Lancashire’s exciting leg-spinner Matt Parkinson looks set to get the opportunity to prove that he has the potential to be a long-term replacement for the imperious Adil Rashid. Danny Briggs and Jacks can also provide some less-specialist spin bowling options, but it looks like Parkinson will be the man to operate in the specialist spinner role.

England’s new love affair with left-arm swing bowlers continues with Gloucestershire’s David Payne perhaps the most surprising inclusion to partner the likes of Craig Overton, Saqib Mahmood and Jake Ball, who all have international experience already. They will be joined by Middlesex’s Tom Helm, who has overcome a series of career injuries to win his first international call-up.

It’s sure to be a challenging series for the hosts, as they try to rebalance a second-string side as well continue the attacking brand of cricket they have become synonymous with in recent years. Particularly with the bat, they will rely on the experience of the likes of Stokes, Malan and Vince, with the captain currently 9/2 to be top England batsman in the first ODI. If they can get enough on the board, the second-string side has plenty of talent with the ball to win the opening match at 11/10.

Pakistan looking to pounce

Led by the experienced and hugely talented Babar Azam, Pakistan will be looking to continue to build momentum following their last ODI series win against South Africa back in April. Azam will of course be one of the key men with the bat but will also be supported by the likes of Mohammad Rizwan and Fakhar Zaman, who averages just under fifty in white ball cricket.

They are certainly an improving side to the one that lost a five-match ODI series in England 4-0 before the 2019 World Cup and haven’t lost an ODI series since, with captain Azam rising to the top of the ICC’s ODI batting rankings. Azam is currently 5/2 to be Pakistan’s top batman in the first ODI.

With the ball, they will be led by Shaheen Afridi. The left armer has developed into one of the top white ball bowlers in the world, with the ability to move the new ball, and provide a wicket-taking option in the latter overs. Afridi is currently 11/4 to be Pakistan’s top bowler in the opening game, with Pakistan now 8/11 favourites to start the series off with a win.

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