Pakistan and England would be aiming to get their 50-over sides up a notch or two as they enter a four-match series in Abu Dhabi starting on Wednesday (November 11).
Pakistan, which won the preceding three-match Test series 2-0 that took it to No. 2 in the ICC Test rankings, is No. 8 on the ODI table. Not only is that poor by its standards, Pakistan needs to lift its game for the 2019 World Cup, to be held in England. Besides England, seven other top-ranked sides as of September 30, 2017, qualify directly for the tournament. The only way for Pakistan to do that is by winning games against the higher-ranked sides, starting with England.
Pakistan, up against the sixth-ranked team now, must be hoping it doesn’t repeat its below-par performances from 2012 when it was whitewashed 4-0 in the United Arab Emirates despite winning the Test series 3-0. Of late, Pakistan has struggled in the 50-over format, losing to Sri Lanka, Australia and New Zealand last year before going down in New Zealand and then failing to progress beyond the quarter-finals of the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup. It then got worse for Pakistan when it was routed 3-0 in Bangladesh.
Since then, however, Pakistan has beaten Zimbabwe twice (home and away) and Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka.
England, meanwhile, have shown progress under Trevor Bayliss after being the only top side not to reach the 2015 World Cup quarter-finals. England beat New Zealand 3-2 before going down fighting 2-3 against Australia – both at home.
The Test series didn’t go too well for England after it was thwarted by poor light conditions in the first Test in Abu Dhabi when victory was its for the taking. It lost the next two Tests rather comprehensively, but, under Eoin Morgan, the ODI side promises to continue in it’s all-out aggression mode and provide a stuff challenge to the home side.
Both Pakistan and England tuned up for the ODI series with comfortable warm-up wins against Nepal and Hong Kong respectively.
The remaining matches would be held in Abu Dhabi (November 13), Sharjah (November 17) and Dubai (November 20).
Pakistan: Azhar Ali (capt), Mohammad Hafeez, Ahmed Shehzad, Bilal Asif, Younis Khan, Shoaib Malik, Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, Sarfraz Ahmed, Amir Yamin, Anwer Ali, Yasir Shah, Zafar Gohar, Rahat Ali, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Irfan.
England: Eoin Morgan (capt), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Chris Jordan, Alex Hales, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, James Taylor, Reece Topley, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Liam Plunkett.