Pakistan vs England fifth T20 predictions: Returning Wood could make the difference
After three fairly one-sided encounters, England’s T20 series with Pakistan served up a real rollercoaster of a thriller in the fourth game that saw the Men in Green prevail to level the series at 2-2.
A knock of 34 from Liam Dawson helped take England from 130-7 to within five runs of the 167 they were chasing.
However, the tourists lost their last three wickets for just one run as Haris Rauf, who took 3-32, rescued the game for the hosts to tie the series up.
Now the two sides travel to Lahore for the final three matches with both obviously looking to get the better of their opponents as preparations for this winter’s T20 World Cup ramp up, beginning with this fifth match of the series.
Opening partnership integral to Pakistan’s chances
The highlight of this series for Pakistan has been their opening partnership of Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam.
One of the pair has been the home side’s top run-scorer in all but one of the four games so far and they combined superbly for the impressive win in the second match in which they chased England’s total of 199 without losing a wicket.
In total for the series, the pair are averaging above 100 for their opening partnership and their careful and measured approach has been in contrast with England’s ultra-aggressive batting.
Wood may add cutting edge to England’s attack
England have struggled in recent months with injuries to their two quickest bowlers Jofra Archer and Mark Wood, meaning they have lacked an out-and-out pace element to their attack.
Wood returned from injury in the third game of this series and immediately showed what his side had been missing, bowling up to 97 mph and taking 3-24 to be the top wicket-taker for the visitors.
The returning bowler was rested for the fourth match but is expected to play at least two of the three clashes in Lahore and may again show why he is so integral to the success of this England team.
Toss will be crucial
As with many white-ball games now, the toss could be the decisive factor as teams tend to prefer to chase down totals.
To add to that, five of the last six international T20s at this stadium have gone the way of the chasing team and therefore whoever wins the toss is likely to opt for batting second.
The fourth game of the series demonstrated the interesting differences between these two teams, with England’s ultra-attacking tendencies ultimately proving to be their undoing as the top order failed to lay the foundations for a successful chase.
However, Pakistan again showed their overreliance on their opening partnership and if the tourists can make early inroads and take a wicket to stop Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan then they should have the advantage.
England may just edge another close encounter with the returning Wood fancied to be top wicket-taker for the visitors as he continues to work his way back to full fitness from his injury.