England will take on Pakistan in match number 44 of the World Cup 2023 at the iconic Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Saturday, November 11. This will be the second match of the double-header. While England are in seventh position in the points table, with four points from eight games and a run rate of -0.885, Pakistan are fifth with eight points from eight matches and a run rate of +0.036.
England have been eliminated from the top four race, while Pakistan are also on the brink of elimination. The mathematical possibility that hasn’t seen the E-letter against Pakistan’s name is a Herculean task, to say the least. England’s main aim in their final league clash of the tournament will be to secure a victory and stay alive for the 2025 Champions Trophy qualification. Their hopes must have received a boost following their impressive 160-run win over Netherlands, coming up with a good all-round show.
As for Pakistan, skipper Babar Azam said at the pre-match press conference that they will try and push up their net run rate. If we look at things practically, though, if Pakistan score 300, they need to restrict England to 13 runs. Here are player battles to watch out for in the England-Pakistan clash.
Fakhar Zaman vs David Willey
Fakhar Zaman has lit up the 2023 World Cup following a late comeback after being dropped early in the tournament. Pakistan might be wondering if their fortunes would have been different had they backed Fakhar’s experience and talent. The 33-year-old went into the World Cup with poor form against his name and was axed from the playing XI after being dismissed for 12 against the Netherlands. Since making a comeback to the team, he has smashed 81 and 126 not out, looking in great hitting rhythm.
England’s left-arm pacer David Willey will be playing his last game for the nation, having announced his international retirement midway through the tournament. He will, obviously, be keen to sign off on a high. The all-rounder has done a decent job for England with the ball, claiming eight wickets in five matches. Willey claimed a three-for against India, two against Sri Lanka, and picked up 2/19 against Netherlands. Can he knock over Fakhar cheaply?
Dawid Malan vs Shaheen Afridi
Dawid Malan admitted in the pre-match press conference that the game against Pakistan could be the last international match for England. At 36, the seasoned left-hander is unsure what his future holds. Malan has had a decent World Cup for England without being outstanding. In eight innings, he has scored 373 runs at an average of 46.62 and a strike rate of 103.32. Malan has one hundred to his credit and has struck consecutive fifties in the last two matches. Can he make it a hat-trick of good scores?
The England opener will be in for a challenge against Shaheen Afridi at the start of the innings. The Pakistan left-arm pacer has been one of the standout performers for the team in what has been a disappointing tournament overall. He has picked up 16 wickets in eight matches at an average of 25.56. Afridi claimed a five-for against Australia and three wickets each against South Africa and Bangladesh, respectively. However, he had a forgettable game against New Zealand, as he was pounded for 90 runs in his 10 overs. He will look to recover against England. Getting Malan early would be a good start.
Babar Azam vs Adil Rashid
Pakistan captain Babar Azam has been among the runs in the 2023 World Cup. But what has been disappointing is that he hasn’t been assertive enough, differentiating him from the likes of Quinton de Kock and Virat Kohli in the tournament. In eight innings, the right-handed batter has scored 282 runs at an average of 40.28 and a strike rate of 82.69. He has notched up four half-centuries but with a best of 74, which is too low as per his standards. Babar will be keen to sign off from the World Cup on a high. A big innings is around the corner?
England leg-spinner Adil Rashid has done a decent job for the team amid all the ruins. He has claimed 13 wickets in eight matches at an average of 27.54. The 35-year-old has gone wicketless in only one of the last five matches. He claimed 2/61 against South Africa, two wickets each against India and Australia, and a three-for against Netherlands. Rashid likes the challenge of bowling to big names. As such, he should enjoy the battle against the Pakistan skipper. It remains to be seen who comes out on top in the clash.
Ben Stokes vs Mohammad Wasim Jr
England’s talismanic all-rounder Ben Stokes is too good a player to miss out on performing in a World Cup. It may be a case of too little, too late, but it has come nonetheless. The star England cricketer, who missed the team’s initial matches due to injury, looked out of sorts on a comeback. He made five against South Africa, a labored 43 against Sri Lanka, and a clueless 0 against India. In the match versus Australia, he also took 90 balls for his 64. However, Stokes was assertive in his ton against the Netherlands.
Mohammad Wasim Jr has often been impressive when playing for Pakistan. The 2023 World Cup has been no different. In three matches, he has registered figures of 2/50, 3/31 and 3/60. The pacer likes accepting challenges. Bowling to Stokes will be one.
Mohammad Rizwan vs Chris Woakes
Mohammad Rizwan started the World Cup with a bang but has lost his way since then. Since his ton against Sri Lanka, he has registered scores of 49, 46, 8, 31, and 26 not out. There have been starts, but Pakistan are expecting much more from him. Can he sign off on a high?
Chris Woakes has impressed with the ball for England in recent games. He claimed two wickets against India and followed it up with a four-for against Australia. Woakes also chipped in with a scalp against the Netherlands. Can he dismiss Rizwan early and carry on his good form?