Morgan returns from isolation to lead England in Pakistan T20s

Published July 15, 2021
In this file photo, England's captain Eoin Morgan speaks at a press conference at Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). — AFP/File
In this file photo, England's captain Eoin Morgan speaks at a press conference at Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). — AFP/File

BIRMINGHAM: Eoin Morgan has been cleared to lead England in an upcoming Twenty20 series against Pakistan it was announced on Wednesday after he missed their One-day International clean sweep following a Covid-19 outbreak within the hosts’ camp.

England had to select an entirely new squad for the ODIs against Pakistan after several players and support tested positive for the coronavirus, with the rest of those originally selected all forced to self-isolate.

Star all-rounder Ben Stokes was rushed back from a finger injury to captain the new-look side.

The 50-over world champions responded with an impressive 3-0 series whitewash of Pakistan, culminating with a dramatic three-wicket win at Edgbaston on Tuesday that featured James Vince’s maiden England century.

Only four of the England players involved in that success have been retained for the three T20 Internationals against Pakistan, with Vince omitted.

Saqib Mahmood, Lewis Gregory and Matt Parkinson have all been included in a 16-man squad after coming to the fore in the ODIs, with T20 regular Dawid Malan keeping his place.

Jos Buttler has also been included after recovering from a calf injury.

Stokes, however, has been rested ahead of the five-match Test series at home to India starting in August, with bowlers Mark Wood, Chris Woakes and Sam Curran absent as well.

Lancashire seamer Mahmood made the most of his unexpected opportunity against Pakistan, with nine wickets at an average of just 13.66 seeing him named ODI player-of-the-series.

Now he is looking forward to maintaining that momentum in a T20 campaign that starts at Trent Bridge on Friday.

“It’s been a bit of a special time for me,” Mahmood told reporters on Wednesday. “A week ago, no one was talking about me and I wasn’t part of the squad, but obviously everything has happened very quickly.

“I’m trying to take it in my stride, not focus too much on what people are saying and concentrate on what I’m doing.

“But Spoons [England head coach Chris Silverwood] pulled me to the side on Tuesday and said: ‘You’ve been bowling really well, this call-up is justification for how well you’ve been doing’. It was nice to hear that.”

The 24-year-old Mahmood twice dismissed Pakistan captain Babar Azam cheaply, although the world’s top-ranked ODI batsman struck a career-best 158 at Edgbaston.

Mahmood, however, enjoyed bowling to a packed slip cordon with the new ball. “I guess being fearless as a side is always taking the positive option,” he said. “At times in this series we had three, four slips consistently and that comes from not worrying about runs and always trying to take wickets.”

The second T20 takes place at Headingley on Sunday before the teams head to Old Trafford for the final fixture on Tuesday.

Squad: Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Tom Banton, Jos Buttler, Tom Curran, Lewis Gregory, Chris Jordan, Liam Livingstone, Saqib Mahmood, Dawid Malan, Matt Parkinson, Adil Rashid, Jason Roy, David Willey.

Published in Dawn, July 15th, 2021

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