As the action in the Indian Premier League 2019 edition comes to an end, the real action begins in England. We are not far off from the start of the ICC World Cup 2019. All the national teams are getting ready for the biggest cricket extravaganza. Firm favourites England and Pakistan will play five matches as part of their preparation. The first of the ODIs will be played at the Kennington Oval on Wednesday.
England remain hot favourites for the World Cup title. They will be eager to finalise their preparations against the mercurial Pakistan. These two sides haven’t met each other since the 2017 Champions Trophy semi-final. Pakistan defeated England then and went on to win the title. So much has changed since then, as Pakistan have lost 12 of the 23 matches last year.
The hosts prepared for the series with a thumping win over Ireland and a T20I win over Pakistan. Both the matches highlighted the depth in the squad, as England look to test some of their fringe players before finalising their World Cup 15.
For the likes of Jofra Archer, Tom Curran and even Liam Plunkett, there is plenty at stake. The host of IPL regulars like Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali have returned to the ranks, which should make captain Eoin Morgan’s selections easy.
There is always an aura of unpredictability around Pakistan. Even after a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of Australia in their recent series, the ‘Men in Green’ remain a strong outfit. They have a bowling unit that can take apart any batting side on any given day.
Pakistan have a chance to iron out their flaws and get prepared for the tournament with these five ODIs and the two warm-ups. Captain Sarfaraz Ahmed will look to find solutions to their lack of batting firepower and the struggles of Mohammad Amir.
Fantasy Players to Watch
Jonny Bairstow has had an excellent IPL 2019 with Sunrisers Hyderabad. He has been England’s best batsman at the top and will once again look for a quick start.
Joe Root is an exception for England, in the midst of the hard hitters they possess. Root’s ability to play anchor and guide through tough situations makes him a definite in your fantasy side.
Babar Azam rarely gets the credit, but his exploits in ODIs are second only to Virat Kohli since the last World Cup. The stylish right-hander is just the player that Pakistan want, to build strong foundations.
England: 1 James Vince 2 Jonny Bairstow 3 Joe Root 4 Eoin Morgan (C) 5 Jos Buttler (WK) 6 Ben Stokes 7 Chris Woakes 8 Joe Denly 9 Jofra Archer 10 Adil Rashid 11 Liam Plunkett
Pakistan: 1 Imam-ul-Haq 2 Fakhar Zaman 3 Babar Azam 4 Haris Sohail 5 Sarfaraz Ahmed (C & WK) 6 Asif Ali 7 Imad Wasim 8 Faheem Ashraf 9 Hasan Ali 10 Shaheen Afridi 11 Mohammad Amir
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