Eng face make or break clash

2009-06-06 18:35
Paul Collingwood (File)

London - England captain Paul Collingwood faces a test of his leadership credentials ahead of their ICC World Twenty20 clash with Pakistan at the Oval after their shock loss to the Netherlands.

Friday's stunning four-wicket defeat by the minnows in the tournament opener at Lord's means England cannot afford another reverse on Sunday if they are to progress to the second round Super Eight phase.

England, surprisingly, left out off-spinner Graeme Swann and all-rounder Dimitri Mascarenhas from their team that played the Dutch while star batsman Kevin Pietersen was ruled out with an Achilles tendon injury.

South Africa born shotmaker Pietersen, who remains doubtful for Sunday's match, is capable of clearing the ropes - something England lacked against the Dutch, with the visitors' scoring four sixes to the hosts' none.

But equally concerning for England was the way in which they were unable to defend a score of 162 for five, with the Dutch getting home off the last ball thanks in part to a series of fielding errors by England quick Stuart Broad.

"We're still in the tournament, we have 24 hours to get our heads around it and we have to play a hell of a lot better on Sunday.

"Pakistan are obviously a very good side," Collingwood told reporters at Lord's. "They got to the final of the last Twenty20 World Cup, they're very skilful and we're going to have to be at our very, very best to beat that side but we can do it."

England have often given the impression in recent years that their focus is solely on the upcoming Test series against Australia, which starts in July.

But Collingwood denied England were obsessed with the Ashes to the exclusion of all else.

"Absolutely not. We are an England team at the moment in a Twenty20 World Cup and that means a hell of a lot to all the players in there (the dressing room) and that's why they are all devastated.

"We are solely thinking about Twenty20 cricket, we are not thinking about the Ashes at the moment."

Pakistan will be playing their first match of the tournament proper on Sunday. They come into the game on the back of two heavy warm-up losses to South Africa (59 runs) and arch-rivals India (nine wickets).

But if any team in world cricket can find their form when needed with little in the way of prior warning then it is Pakistan.

"What happened in those two matches will not matter once the real thing starts," Pakistan coach Intikhab Alam said.

"We may be slow starters but there is a lot of talent in the team that gives me confidence we will do well.

"We tried a lot of new things and new combinations in the two matches to get the mix right for the tournament, so the results there don't matter."

And Pakistan batsman Misbah-ul-Haq, like Alam speaking before Friday's stunning upset, said a tough warm-up programme could work in the side's favour.

"It's always good to play against in-form teams before a tournament because that allows you to get aware of your weaknesses."


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