England's challenge to adapt to the condition

Photo: ESPNCricinfo Photo: ESPNCricinfo

After securing their first-ever ICC Trophy in the 50-over World Cup two years ago, Eoin Morgan's men are set to face a series of challenges to clinch their second T20 Title. 

England’s campaign this year is scheduled to begin tomorrow at 8.00 pm Bangladesh time facing the defending champions, West Indies. 

Despite the absence of England’s premier all-rounder Ben Stokes for his break from the game due to mental fatigue, the batting lineup of England looks pretty formidable. 

They have one of the most, if not the most, explosive opening pair in this World Cup in the form of Jason Roy and Joss Butler. With UAE conditions expected to be sluggish in nature, using the powerplay-- when the ball is new and hard-- is going to be of utmost importance. And this English pair is probably just the right duo to get the job done. 

At No. 3 comes Dawid Malan, currently ranked first in ICC T20I Batting Rankings. Although there are question marks over his ability to score in slow pitches, Malan must be ready for the challenge to put up an improved performance in such conditions. 

The middle-order is likely to be built around Jonny Bairstow, Liam Livingstone, Moeen Ali, and the skipper Eoin Morgan. 

Bairstow has been very successful in the middle-order role since his shuffle to No. 4 in South Africa last winter. Livingstone, on the back of his amazing performance in the inaugural edition of The Hundred, is expected to fulfil the role of batsman Ben Stokes. 

Moeen Ali’s batting position is likely to shuffle depending on the match situation – he could well be sent up the order as a floater to counter spin or be asked to bat at No. 7 to finish off the innings with a flurry. 

However, with all being said, the biggest concern for England is going to be the recent form of their skipper who scored only 41 runs in 9 innings, averaging 6.83 at a strike rate of 71.92 in the UAE leg of IPL 2021. 

In fact, Livingstone too had a bitter experience here with only 42 runs in five innings. Understandably, it is for certain that the entire middle order will face a stiff challenge in adapting to the conditions. 

Besides these four, Sam Billings is another player who can slot into the middle order whenever required. 

The rest of the XI is likely to be constructed with three seamers and Adil Rashid. The leggie will lead the spin department along with Moeen Ali, the fifth bowler, and Liam Livingstone, a part-timer regarded as the sixth bowling option. 

The choice of three seamers, however, is going to be interesting. Undoubtedly, the absence of Jofra Archer due to his elbow injury is a massive blow for the English camp. On top of that, without the services of Stokes, there is no one in the middle order to support the bowling department with an additional seam option. 

Among the six options, Chris Woakes and David Willey are good at swinging the ball to pick early wickets in the powerplay while Mark Wood is more of a hit-the-deck bowler who can prove to be very useful in two-paced UAE pitches.

At one end, there is Tymal Mills who is making a comeback after four and a half years for his fine performance in the domestic leagues this summer, while at the other end, there are Chris Jordan and Tom Curran who have not had a decent time of late but do possess a lot of experience of death bowling under their belt. 

All in all, England’s chances will largely depend on two aspects – how efficiently they can construct their bowling plans and how quickly the batters can adapt their game from flat English decks to sluggish UAE conditions.

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