England Vs Pakistan
Starting time: 2:00 pm IST, Feb 18
What better way to wrap up a scintillating round of World Cup warm-up games than to revive an age-old rivalry - England Vs Pakistan. The team from the UK have a slight edge over these opponents by virtue of the fact that they have beaten them in 38 games and lost 28 and also claimed victory in the last series they faced-off in, which took place in Sept, 2010, by 3 games to 2. So now, Pakistan would like nothing better than to begin their bid to regain the World Cup by settling scores with an old foe.
That quest has just been made easier thanks to the ouster of Eoin Morgan from England's World Cup XV due to injury. After all, Morgan is the second highest English run-scorer against Pakistan since the last quadrennial event, with an average of 56.25 and a robust strike rate of 94.14. But Pakistan's most successful batting nemesis - Andrew Strauss - who bears an average of 63.40 against them is still very much on the scene and will be looking to wreak more havoc.
Men who have emerged as Pakistan's evident trump-cards against England in the Natwest series last year are come-back keeper Kamran Akmal, who notched up an average of 40.20 at an average of 87.01 and fast bowler Umar Gul, who garnered 12 wickets from the 5 matches at an average of 21.25.
Pakistan in turn will have to watch out for off-spinner Graeme Swann who picked up 11 scalps in that series at 19.00 runs per wicket and paceman Stuart Broad who finished with similar figures. However, both these players are returning from injury and may not be in prime form.
Pakistan will be eager to turn the tables on England especially after the hiding they got from them in their last one-day encounter. On that occasion, England made 256 to the bowl out Pakistan for just 135 with Swann and Broad taking 3 wickets a piece and Morgan winning the Man of the Match award for his 107 off 101 balls. Of course, England's confidence has undergone quite a shaking in light of their 1-6 drubbing at the hands of the Australians. So, Pakistan will want take full advantage of England's jaded state, especially themselves coming off a victorious outing in New Zealand.