Pakistan celebrate a wicket in the ODI series. © PCB

There was a shift in approach for Pakistan in the last ODI of the rain-affected third match. For the first 20 overs, Pakistan batted exceedingly well. They posted their highest-ever opening partnership in ODIs – 96 runs – which laid the platform for the rest of the line-up. That they didn’t capitalise is something the management might not be too pleased with, but there was some positive batting from both Nahida Khan and Javeria Khan.

With the three-match T20I series beginning on Tuesday (December 17), this positive intent is what Pakistan will need to carry forward if they want to really challenge England. With the T20 World Cup 2020 not far, Pakistan will have to find ways to improve their batting – both in terms of strike rotation and finding the boundary – which Mark Coles, the former head coach, addressed recently. Only Nahida Khan and Bismah Maroof fared well with regards to the strike rate. In the shorter formats, this would play a pivotal role.

The hosts’ bowling and fielding, too, left a lot to be desired through the ODI series. In Sana Mir’s absence the likes of Diana Baig, Nida Dar and Aliya Riaz failed to control the run-flow against a rampaging England line-up. With the young Syeda Aroob Shah in the squad, it would be interesting to see if she gets a go immediately ahead of the likes of Anam Amin or Sadia Iqbal. She certainly provides something different to the attack, and showed great composure on her international debut against Bangladesh. Whether she is able to hold her own against a far more experienced and skilled England team is a question in itself, but one the rest of the world is certainly itching to find out.

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England have ticked the majority of the boxes. The likes of Danielle Wyatt, Tammy Beaumont, Heather Knight, Natalie Sciver and Fran Wilson got amongst the runs, while Sarah Glenn proved her class in her very first international series bagging eight wickets. It will be worth seeing if the tourists pick her in the shortest format or stick with Kirstie Gordon, who has a proven track record in T20 cricket. Freya Davis, the right-arm seamer who had an incredible run in the Women’s Cricket Super League, is also someone who could have a look-in, but which pacer England then have to leave out is another dilemma altogether.

What England do with their batting order will also be interesting. With calls for Amy Jones to open growing louder, whether she is pushed up or persisted with in the middle order is something they will have to decide.

Having said that Wyatt and Beaumont have proven to be a formidable combination at the top of the order, so it is unlikely England will want to break that momentum.

Ahead of what could be the final dress rehearsal for Pakistan before the global tournament next year, they have a lot of questions to address. England have a more or less settled outfit and it’s perhaps only a matter of ironing out some minor flaws and understanding how best to use the personnel at their disposal.

With the track at the Kinrara Oval in Kuala Lumpur showing that it is good for batting, we could be in for a run-filled first T20I.

Squads:

Pakistan: Bismah Maroof (c), Aliya Riaz, Anam Amin, Syeda Aroob Shah, Ayesha Zafar, Diana Baig, Fatima Sana, Iram Javed, Javeria Khan, Nahida Khan, Nida Dar, Omaima Sohail, Rameen Shamim, Sadia Iqbal, Sidra Nawaz (wk).

England: Heather Knight (c), Amy Jones (wk), Anya Shrubsole, Danielle Wyatt, Fran Wilson, Freya Davies, Kate Cross, Katherine Brunt, Kirstie Gordon, Lauren Winfield, Mady Villiers, Natalie Sciver, Sarah Glenn, Sophie Ecclestone, Tammy Beaumont.

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