Dubai - Former champions Pakistan will face
England in a three-match Twenty20 series in Dubai from Thursday as they begin
to settle their squads for next year's World Twenty20.
Pakistan finished runners-up in the first
edition of the World Twenty20 in 2007 before winning the crown two years later
in England and are now ranked number two in the shortest and the most popular
format of the game.
They need to win the series, at least by a
2-1 margin, to maintain their standings - a fact Shahid Afridi believes will
spur on his team.
"We want to settle down before the
World Twenty20," said Afridi of the event to be held in India from March
"Besides that we are ranked number two
so it's an important series for us in many ways and we will do our best to win
Pakistan are likely to get two to three
Twenty20 matches if their series against India is held next month before they
head to New Zealand for another three matches.
Before the sixth edition of the World
Twenty20 they will also feature in the Asia Cup to be held in Bangladesh in
Pakistan are hampered by the absence of ace
spinner Saeed Ajmal, who is struggling with a new bowling action which needed
alteration after it was deemed illegal.
Besides Ajmal, the highest wicket-taker in
all Twenty20 cricket with 85, paceman Umar Gul (joint second highest with 83
wickets) was also not selected as he is recovering from injury. Opening batsman
Mohammad Hafeez is also banned from bowling.
But Afridi, who also has 83 wickets, hopes
his young team will fight hard.
England, who won the World Twenty20 in
2010, are ranked eighth in the shortest format but coach Trevor Bayliss
believes their 3-1 one-day success over Pakistan last week will give the squad
"England players should have a lot of
confidence from the way they've played going into the three T20 matches,
knowing they can play in these conditions against this quality of
opposition," said Bayliss whose team lost the Test series 2-0.
Bayliss, from Australia, said the series
will help his team prepare for the World Twenty20.
"It's another step on the way to that
World Twenty20 in March-April. We want to play this T20 series and win that as
well as we possibly can, but it's also a bit of a testing ground."
The remaining two matches will be held in
Dubai (Friday) and Sharjah (Monday).
Pakistan: Shahid Afridi (captain), Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Rafatullah Mohmand, Shoaib Malik, Sohaib Maqsood, Umar Akmal, Mohammad Rizwan, Sarfraz Ahmed, Anwar Ali, Bilal Asif, Imran Khan junior, Mohammad Irfan, Sohail Tanvir, Wahab Riaz, Aamer Yamin
England: Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Chris Jordan, Alex Hales, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, James Taylor, Reece Topley, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Liam Plunkett
Officials for first match:
Umpires: Ahsan Raza (PAK and Shozab Raza (PAK)
Tv umpire: Ahmed Shahab (PAK)
Match referee: Ranjan Madugalle (SRI)