England will be fancied strongly for the fourth and final ODI on Tuesday, but need to maintain their momentum ahead of the Twenty20s, says Ed Kemp.
Recent history suggests that once a team gets on top in a series, it’s tough for their opponents to turn things round. While India suffered in their Test series in England and Australia, England have been whitewashed twice in recent months: in the one-dayers on Indian soil last autumn, and in the Test series just gone in UAE. It would surprise few people if England completed a 4-0 victory in the final match of the series at Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.
And it would be significant, too, in taking momentum into the three upcoming Twenty20 games. There is talk that England might use the dead rubber as an opportunity to blood a few of the fringe players – that might well be the case if it is giving practice to those who are likely to feature in the shorter format on Thursday. That might mean a berth for Jos Buttler – whose hand injury should have recovered and whose quick-scoring form for the Lions this winter has been eye-catching.
In terms of runscoring, you might think Cook is due a failure (although he normally cashes in on a good spell of form) but Pietersen is likely to pick up where he left off last time round, and Eoin Morgan will have been buoyed by a second successive not out.
And as for England’s bowling, our diarist Steven Finn has earned every plaudit that’s come his way: he’s been fast, accurate and extremely threatening. In India he proved miserly and penetrative throughout the five-match series, and there’s no reason to suppose he won’t be the most successful bowler against this Pakistan line-up once again.
Several of Pakistan’s batsmen will feel they’re due a score – but perhaps their lower to middle-order, who are more likely to avoid Finn could be the most likely for runs. The skipper Misbah-ul-Haq might turn up to spare his team humiliation, else Shahid Afridi or one of the Akmal brothers could give it a productive slap in the middle to late overs.
Our betting partners at Betfair analyse the odds for tomorrow’s contest.
You should be prepared to be courageous and back Pakistan, but only if England rest some of their big names. So wait until the team news, although expect the 2.08 on the hosts to take a dip. England are 1.92.
Top Pakistan batsman
Either Shahid Afridi or Umar Akmal could go off at around the 4.00 mark under ‘Any Other’. Backing ‘Any Other’ in this market this series has been the only reliable aspect of Pakistan’s cricket.
Top England batsman
It’s asking a lot for Cook to top-score again. That makes laying him at 4.00 very tempting. Not to mention a lay of him not to score a 50. But Eoin Morgan is in increasingly good form and has impressed on his last two outings. He is overpriced at around 6.50.
Recommended bet: Back Morgan for top England batsman at 6.50