x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Pakistan and England focus on bigger picture ahead of Abu Dhabi T20

Decider on Monday, the last cricket match in the UAE for a while, will be key to World Twenty20 hopes for England as well as Misbah-ul-Haq's self-confidence as Pakistan captain.

Stuart Broad, second from right, wants England to gain as much experience and confidence as they can ahead of the World Twenty20.
Stuart Broad, second from right, wants England to gain as much experience and confidence as they can ahead of the World Twenty20.

ABU DHABI // The UAE is unlikely to see top-flight international cricket for some while after Monday night's Twenty20 finale between Pakistan and England.

With a series involving Bangladesh likely to be more expensive than it is worth, and August too hot to play against Australia here, Pakistan are having to look for alternative accommodation away from their chosen second home for their next assignments.

If the prospect of a forthcoming famine is not enough for the UAE's cricket-loving public to make their way to the Zayed Cricket Stadium on Monday evening, then for once the situation in the series should.

Because of back-to-back whitewashes in the Test and 50-over series – one for each team – this tour of the Emirates has thrown up a variety of dead matches. That has hardly been the sole reason for low ticket sales, but it has not helped.

Happily, the three-match Twenty20 series will culminate in a game which is essentially a winner-takes-all final.

After his side levelled the series on Saturday night, Stuart Broad, the England captain, likened this match to the pressure of a knockout cricket World Cup.

With not many opportunities left before September, when England travel to Sri Lanka to defend their World Twenty20 title, he regards tonight as a valuable chance to see how his young side react to pressure.

"We obviously don't have a huge amount of cricket before the next World Cup, and we have to use every game leading towards that," Broad said.

"More importantly, we have to win this series over here. We can learn along the way, but [Monday night] is a huge game for us.

"The pressure will be like a World Cup scenario because it is a must-win game. We want to go home with a trophy."

A month is a long time in Pakistan cricket. At the start of February, Misbah-ul-Haq and Mohsin Khan were being lauded for their roles, as captain and coach, in fashioning a first-ever Test whitewash of England.

A one-day series whitewash and a T20 defeat later, and the vultures are circling again. Misbah is complaining about victimisation in the media, and Mohsin is about to be out of a job, with Dav Whatmore set to take over from the start of next week.

Against that backdrop, it is little wonder Pakistan had the look of the bad old days in their defeat on Saturday night.

"I think this is a good team, but the batting is not playing to its potential," Misbah said. "We have carried on the bad form from the one-day series.

"If you want to win one-day and Twenty20 cricket, I think it is batting which wins you games. We want to end the tour positively."

pradley@thenational.ae