• Pakistan v England, 3rd Twenty20, Dubai

Who can provide the strong finish?

The Preview by Andrew McGlashan
February 26, 2012
Hammad Azam played a brief but sparkling innings in the second Twenty20 © Getty Images
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Match Facts
Monday, February 27, Abu Dhabi
Start time 2000 (1600 GMT)

The Big Picture
After two whitewashes we now have a series decider following England's slick victory in the second Twenty20 international in Dubai. Twenty20 matches can swing on the smallest of factors, but the intensity and sharpness of England's display on Saturday suggests they are the side finishing stronger.

A series victory will help consolidate England's position at the top of the rankings, although the bigger picture, and it applies to both teams, is putting in place plans for the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka during September and October. Twenty20 internationals are few and far between - three-match series are a new breed in this format - so each game is important towards building a unit.

England learned quickly between the first and second matches in Dubai while Pakistan regressed quite significantly, especially with the bat. Jonny Bairstow showed that England's young players are soaking up their experiences while the incisiveness of the bowling attack is now consistent across all three formats.

Form guide (Most recent first)
Pakistan LWWWW
England WLWLW

Watch out for...
Hammad Azam showed some spark in the second Twenty20 and while he was cutting loose, in a manner reminiscent of Abdul Razzaq, Pakistan were not out of the match. For a 20-year-old playing his first Twenty20 international innings it was a display of impressive confidence. It might be worth Misbah-ul-Haq giving him a bowl.

Graeme Swann was out-bowled in the Test series by Monty Panesar and often overshadowed by the quicks in the 50-over matches, but he has come into his own in the Twenty20s. His eight overs have brought figures of 5 for 30, which should provide him a nice rankings boost at the end of the series. And he still likes cracking the jokes.

Team news
The form of Shoaib Malik is causing Pakistan problems, which became even more acute when Misbah struggled to score in the second match. The middle order could do with some more kick and it may be worth promoting Azam. Imran Farhat is also in the squad if they decide Awais Zia has proved just too hit and miss.

Pakistan (probable) 1 Mohammad Hafeez, 2 Awais Zia, 3 Asad Shafiq, 4 Umar Akmal (wk), 5 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), 6 Shoaib Malik, 7 Shahid Afridi, 8 Hammad Azam, 9 Umar Gul, 10 Saeed Ajmal, 11 Aizaz Cheema

With the series on the line England won't be tinkering as they did in the last ODI, which means Tim Bresnan is unlikely to find a place.

England (probable) 1 Kevin Pietersen, 2 Craig Kieswetter (wk), 3 Ravi Bopara, 4 Eoin Morgan, 5 Jonny Bairstow, 6 Jos Buttler, 7 Samit Patel, 8 Stuart Broad (capt), 9 Graeme Swann, 10 Jade Dernbach, 11 Steven Finn

Pitch and conditions
In Dubai a score of around 140-150 proved defendable and the nature of the pitch at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi during the ODIs suggests something similar could be par for this final match. It will be another late finish for fans and players with an 8pm start.

Stats and trivia

  • Pakistan's defeat on Saturday was Misbah's first as captain in a Twenty20

  • In 16 innings on tour (including the warm-up matches) Eoin Morgan has made 190 runs with a top score of 31.

Quotes
"In this game we won last night, I thought Bairstow's innings was outstanding - very skilful, and very powerful as well. That's a very good combination to have."
Andy Flower offers his praise

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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