Abu Dhabi: Having humbled England in the recently concluded Test series, Pakistan will hope to extend their dominance going into the ODI format. Alastair Cook though has already warned that his team is ready to keep the Test record behing and come all guns blazing.
February 13, Abu Dhabi
Start time 1500 (1100 GMT)
The Big Picture
Still hurting from the whitewash in the Test series, England now have to try and turn their fortunes around in the format where their record is weakest. Even without the events of recent weeks, it would have been a daunting task given their poor one-day record overseas, and few will be surprised if Pakistan exert superiority again.
England's last two one-day series overseas ended 6-1 (in Australia) and 5-0 (in India). Throw in another poor World Cup and it's hardly a record to instil confidence. Then there is the prospect of facing at least 40 overs of spin per innings. With all the games being day/night encounters, England's quicks will not be able to exploit any early-morning moisture either.
That factor further diluted the value of England's warm-up against the Lions, where Jade Dernbach and Steven Finn skittled the second team for 96 during a day game. Meanwhile, Pakistan had a decent workout against a spirited Afghanistan, as Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq took the opportunity to switch into one-day mode. Their experience in the middle order will again be vital.
For England's batsmen it is a case of trying to learn from the mistakes of the Test series, but not remember the experience so much that it inhibits them. Kevin Pietersen and Eoin Morgan have reputations to salvage while presence of Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott in the top three is likely to provoke further debate. It will be a series to ask many questions of England.
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Watch out for...
The entertainer is back. Shahid Afridi can lay claim to being the most effective one-day spinner in the world and he prepared for the series by taking five wickets against Afghanistan. England know what to expect, but such were their struggles against anything that turned in the Test matches that Afridi could be in for another bumper haul. Runs are a bonus from Afridi, but he can still change a match on his own.
Steven Finn was the one significant bright spot to emerge from England's 5-0 defeat in India last October as he bowled with eye-catching pace on some unresponsive surfaces. He was unlucky not to play in the Test series against Pakistan but should still be preferred ahead of James Anderson with the white ball. Alongside the likes of James Pattinson, Pat Cummins, Umesh Yadav and Marchant de Lange, Finn is part of the future of international fast bowling.
There have been suggestions that Pakistan may play just one quick bowler - Umar Gul - but they could find room for Wahab Riaz and still have plenty of spin options. Umar Akmal had the wicketkeeper's role against Afghanistan while Shoaib Malik, on the insistence of Misbah-ul-Haq, is back in the side as another allrounder.
Pakistan (possible) 1 Mohammad Hafeez, 2 Imran Farhat, 3 Asad Shafiq, 4 Younis Khan, 5 Misbah-ul-Haq, 6 Umar Akmal (wk), 7 Shoaib Malik, 8 Shahid Afridi, 9 Saeed Ajmal, 10 Umar Gul, 11 Wahab Riaz
England will once again jiggle their one-day batting order as Craig Kieswetter moves to the middle order and Pietersen opens. If Tim Bresnan is deemed fit to resume full duties after his elbow problems, Jade Dernbach, who took 3 for 21 against the Lions, will struggle to make the starting XI. Jos Buttler's hand injury has denied him an ODI debut.
England 1 Alastair Cook (capt), 2 Kevin Pietersen, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Ravi Bopara, 5 Eoin Morgan, 6 Craig Kieswetter (wk), 7 Samit Patel, 8 Tim Bresnan, 9 Stuart Broad, 10 Graeme Swann, 11 Steven Finn
Pitch and conditions
Expect the surfaces to turn throughout the series and there is unlikely to be much pace to work with. The weather shouldn't pose any problems although (by UAE standards) the evenings can be a little chilly.