As the two teams turn to coloured apparel after one-way traffic in the Test series, Pakistan will look to continue their stranglehold on the England batsmen in the first One-Day International (ODI) that takes place today in Abu Dhabi.
After a historic 3-0 whitewash of England – with batsmen having little idea on how to counter spin and even pace at times – Pakistan captain Misbahul Haq remained confident over his team’s chances of dictating terms again. But the captain, who has won 13 of the 14 ODIs he has led Pakistan in since last June, was wary of complacency creeping in.
“We’re high on confidence but at times it’s also harmful so we have to guard against that,” said Misbah. “Of course we do have a plan for every game but the main thing is to do our basics well so we are going to stick to that.”
Not so simple for England
For Misbah, the plan seemed simple since he has a team which has turned things around and is coming off a successful year followed by another triumph to set the tone for 2012.
However, for England captain Alastair Cook, who has seen his side crash to their first Test whitewash against Pakistan, things are not that straightforward. A struggling set of batsmen, who were blanked in the face of spinners Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman, will also have Shahid Afridi to answer — the leg-spinner coming on the back of a five-wicket haul against Afghanistan to compound problems.
Additionally, Cook, who took over as ODI captain after the 2011 World Cup, suffered a 5-0 thrashing in India but hoped that loss and defeat in Tests against Pakistan were forgotten.
“It’s been a tough five weeks as a Test tour but this is now a different, fresh side and hopefully we can bring that enthusiasm into the game,” said Cook. “We tried as hard as we could and we came up short against India. There’s no shame in that but there will be shame if we don’t learn from that.
“In ODIs you can be more positive and we’re not going to have men around the bat all the time so it changes your mentality as a batter — it frees you up.”
Cook was confident that England will be able to turn things around.
“We’ve got a good record against Pakistan and have had success against these bowlers before in ODIs.”
Pakistan may counter England’s ploy of using Pietersen at the top by opening the bowling with left-armer Rehman.
The second ODI will be played in Abu Dhabi on February 15 before the third and fourth ODI take place in Dubai on February 18 and 21.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 13th, 2012.
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