Richard Mann kicked off England's T20I series with Pakistan with a winning preview – check out his selections for the second match on Thursday.
2pts Dawid Malan top England batsman at 10/3 (General)
2pts Mohammad Rizwan top Pakistan batsman at 11/4 (bet365)
England began their T20I series against Pakistan with a relatively comfortable six-wicket victory at Karachi on Tuesday, Alex Hales marking his international return with a half-century that underpinned England’s run chase.
In the absence of Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow, Hales heads the betting in the top England batsman market for Thursday’s second instalment, but I’m keen to take him on with DAWID MALAN who is now the senior batsman in the side in the absence of those aforementioned big names.
Malan is so often one of main runners in this market, no surprise given a career average of 38.67 in T20Is – his one century and 12 fifties coming from a mere 43 matches. Furthermore, Malan arrived in Pakistan in fine form having finished as the leading runscorer in this summer’s edition of The Hundred, with final tally of 377 runs coming from only 226 balls.
It was for that reason Malan had to come under consideration for the series opener, but the lack of clarity around Buttler’s fitness and the fact the former has in the past found the slower pitches in the subcontinent more challenging than at home or in South Africa and New Zealand was enough to put me off.
However, with Buttler confirmed to be out until at least the Lahore leg of the series as he recovers from a calf injury, and Malan looking in particularly good touch for his 15-ball 20 on Tuesday, the Yorkshire man is worth a bet.
One of the few criticisms that could be charged at Malan in this format is that he has preferred to take his time early in his innings before then looking to accelerate his strike-rate, and that has been more of an issue in this part of the world when often starting against spin or when unable to ‘catch up’ on slow pitches that don’t play to his strengths.
But Malan has made noticeable improvements. His final innings in last year’s T20 World Cup in the UAE saw him make 41 from 30 balls against New Zealand, and then last summer Malan raced out of the blocks in various knocks against India and South Africa when playing spin particularly well.
It seems Malan has made a concerted effort to try and get rolling earlier, and that will help him in conditions that aren’t second nature to him and have found him out in the past. A big part of his improvement against spin has been Malan’s willingness to utilise the slog sweep earlier, and that was seen to really good effect against India and South Africa.
Malan’s sharp 20 on Tuesday gave sign that he remains in excellent touch and the opportunity to back such a good player at 10/3, with the likes of Buttler and Bairstow missing, is too good to pass up.
MOHAMMAD RIZWAN was a good winner for these pages on Tuesday, and with bet365 dangling the carrot for a repeat at 11/4, we must go in again.
Unlike opening partner Babar Azam, Rizwan’s form was excellent at the recent Asia Cup, top scoring in four of Pakistan’s six matches in that tournament before making a very good 68 in the series opener against England.
Babar did at least look closer to his best there, but not in the same form as Rizwan who remains on a hot streak and is hard to ignore with the Pakistan middle order looking so weak at present.
Posted at 1120 BST on 21/09/22
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