Pakistan vs England T20 series predictions: England to struggle on slow wickets
England are touring Pakistan for the first time since 2005 and will take on the Shaheens across seven T20 internationals in preparation for both nations' tilt at the World Twenty20 later this year.
The tourists have taken a 20-strong squad for the bilateral series, split between venues in Karachi and Lahore.
The Men in Green will be motivated to do well for the home fans, who are expected to provide fervent support to the hosts throughout the series.
England beat Pakistan 2-1 as hosts when they last met in 2021 and also took the previous two T20 series played in what became the Shaheens' second home for international cricket ? the United Arab Emirates.
Brook could be key in Bairstow's absence
Jos Buttler, England's white-ball skipper, has been ruled out of the first half of the series with a calf injury while Jonny Bairstow is missing with a broken leg.
So England's feared six-hitting batting line-up will include some new faces ? although they will be well known to the hosts. Alex Hales, who scored 355 runs at an average of 44.37 and strike rate of 147.30 in last season's Pakistan Super League, has been recalled after three years in the international wilderness.
The right-hander, who averages 31 for England in T20s with a top score of 116 not out, has been one of the most destructive batters in franchise cricket for a number of years.
But his PSL7 record was bettered by Harry Brook, who helped Lahore Qalandars become champions for the first time earlier this year.
The Yorkshireman hit a brilliant century off 48 balls against Islamabad United and also played an important knock in the final against Multan Sultans, scoring 41 off 22 balls.
Brook's knowledge of Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore ? scene of the final three T20s of the series ? could give him an edge over some of his teammates when it comes to defining which England batter scores the most runs in Pakistan.
Pakistan will rue left-arm paceman's absence
The hosts will have to do without opening batter Fakhar Zaman, who landed awkwardly on his right knee while fielding during the ACC T20 Asia Cup final in Dubai earlier this month.
Shan Masood, who is yet to play a T20I, has been called up as a replacement.
Pakistan will also be without devastating left-arm paceman Shaheen Shah Afridi, who is currently sidelined with a knee injury, although they hope to have him fit and firing for the upcoming tournament in Australia.
Afridi took 3-30 and won Player of the Match honours when Pakistan beat England at Trent Bridge last summer, and his left-arm angle is something Buttler and co have struggled to master for a while.
Rizman in form but Babar needs runs
The key to any home series win could again be Mohammed Rizwan, who in 2021 became the first batter to score 2,000 runs in Twenty20 cricket in a calendar year.
Over 1,200 of those runs came in 26 international T20 innings for the Men in Green and he has again been a high-volume scorer for them in 2022.
He looks likely to be Pakistan's top batter in the series ? especially with skipper Babar Azam so out of form at the moment.
The classy right-hander had a poor run in the Asia Cup 2022 where he scored just 68 runs in six matches at a miserable average of 11.33 and thus giving Pakistan real cause for concern ahead of the T20 World Cup.
England have been through some lean times in this format after losing both home series against India and South Africa in 2022.
It may be a bit too much for them to tame the hosts, who will want to rise to the challenge on this momentous occasion of England returning to their country.
Babar may be out of form going into the series, but class is permanent and one knock could turn his fortunes with the bat around.
The tourists could fare better later in the series at Lahore because the wicket at National Stadium in Karachi plays notoriously slowly and that is not going to suit English batsmen who like the ball coming on to the bat.
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