In a defining clash at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023, England and Pakistan prepare for a showdown at Eden Gardens. England's journey, marred by a series of defeats, mirrors historic sports disappointments, threatening their future in major tournaments. Pakistan, echoing its 2019 trajectory, clings to fading semi-final dreams. This match transcends a mere contest, embodying a struggle for survival and a testament to the unpredictable nature of cricket.
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Match Preview: England vs Pakistan, ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 44th Match
ICC World Cup • 11 Nov, 2023 • 6,725 Views • ⭐ 5.0
Written by Anand Swami
Eden Gardens in Kolkata, a legendary venue in the world of cricket, is renowned for its propensity to host high-scoring encounters. This iconic ground has become synonymous with batting-friendly conditions, often leading to exhilarating run feasts. The pitch here typically favours the team batting first, as evidenced by an impressive average first innings score of 242. This distinct advantage for batters sets the stage for some memorable and aggressive batting displays.
As the game advances to the second innings, the pitch at Eden Gardens reveals a consistent pattern, with the average score dipping slightly to 198. This trend further highlights the pitch's bias towards batsmen, especially in the early stages of a match. Batters often find ample opportunities to dominate and leave a significant impact on the game.
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The ground's tendency to facilitate high-scoring games has made it a beloved venue among cricket fans, who eagerly anticipate the thrill of witnessing boundaries and sixes in abundance. Eden Gardens' reputation as a batsman's paradise thus continues to hold strong, promising an exciting contest filled with run-scoring spectacles.
Form Guide: England
Recent Performance: LLLLW (last five completed ODIs, most recent first)
England's journey in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 has been tumultuous, marked by a series of defeats that have cast a shadow over their title defence. Their campaign can be compared to some of the most notable sports upsets, like France's performance in the 2002 FIFA World Cup or Lleyton Hewitt's early exit from Wimbledon in 2003. The team suffered six defeats over nearly a month, jeopardizing their participation in future tournaments, including the 2025 Champions Trophy.
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The English team's approach has been characterized by a high-risk-high-reward strategy for approximately eight years, leading to significant white-ball success. However, this World Cup saw the risks outweighing the rewards. Their confidence took a hit after unexpected losses, first a heavy defeat against New Zealand followed by an upset against Afghanistan, leading to a rapid decline in performance.
A notable moment of panic was seen in their match against South Africa, where England's decision to field first after making three changes to the team backfired. The team's selection and strategic choices have been under scrutiny throughout the tournament. Nonetheless, they managed to pull off a win against the Netherlands, which, despite being a respectable performance, was not enough to offset the earlier string of losses.
Looking ahead, England faces Pakistan in a match that offers an opportunity to end their challenging tournament on a relatively positive note. The team has historically performed well against Pakistan, winning 14 of their 18 completed ODIs since the 2015 World Cup, including scoring a then-world record total of 444 at Trent Bridge. This match could be a chance for some players in the England squad, potentially playing their last ODI in a World Cup, to leave a lasting impression.
Form Guide: Pakistan
Recent Performance: WWLLL
Pakistan's campaign in this World Cup has been a rollercoaster, mirroring their 2019 tournament experience. Despite the odds stacked against them for semi-final qualification, the team continues to hold onto hope. For Pakistan to qualify, they would need to beat England by approximately 290 runs, a challenging feat given England's performance, despite their struggles in the tournament.
Pakistan's campaign has been marked by a series of losses that have left them trailing behind New Zealand in terms of net run rate (NRR). This scenario is reminiscent of their 2019 campaign, where they faced a similar situation in their final game against Bangladesh. Unfortunately, the team was unable to secure the required win then, and they faced an uphill battle to achieve it this time.
A concerning aspect for Pakistan has been the simultaneous loss of form among several key players, leading to their worst mid-World Cup run in history with four consecutive losses. This pattern of losing critical matches, similar to their loss against West Indies in 2019 and Afghanistan in 2023, has hampered their campaign. The team's negative NRR for a significant part of the tournament has been a persistent issue.
Babar Azam, the captain, faces the challenge of motivating his team towards a miraculous comeback. Despite his efforts, he has struggled to inspire a sustained commitment to progressive cricket throughout his tenure. Pakistan's best outcome, based on their current form, might be to finish as the best among the rest, a position that would not be unfair given their performance in the tournament.
Players to Watch
Jos Buttler's unexpected dip in form and confidence during this World Cup has emerged as a significant concern for England. Buttler, who was instrumental in England's victory four years ago, expectedly ascended to captaincy, anticipated to be a high point in his One Day International (ODI) career. However, the tournament turned out to be quite the opposite. His highest score was a 43 against New Zealand in the opening match, and disappointingly, he failed to score more than half that amount in any of his subsequent seven innings.
Despite these struggles, Buttler's performance against Pakistan has historically been impressive, boasting an average of 65.25 and a strike rate of 150.86, significantly higher than his overall career averages of 39.79 and 117.16. Although England's chances in the World Cup are slim, Buttler still has an opportunity to lead his team to victory and secure a spot in the next Champions Trophy with a win against Pakistan.
On the other hand, Pakistan's Fakhar Zaman has experienced a similar ebb in form. Just six months prior, he had hit three consecutive centuries, positioning himself as one of the most formidable openers anticipated at the World Cup. This level of performance, however, was conspicuously missing at the start of the tournament, leading to his dropping after just one game. Initially averaging only 22 in World Cup matches, Fakhar made a strong comeback with scores of 81 and an unbeaten 126 in the two games following his return.
Although this resurgence may seem too late to impact Pakistan's campaign significantly, it is noteworthy, especially as this could potentially be the 33-year-old's final World Cup appearance. A liberated Fakhar Zaman, unburdened by expectations, could be a critical player to watch in the upcoming match.
In their recent match against the Netherlands, England displayed a performance that was close to being comprehensive, despite encountering some instability in their middle order. Given this relatively strong showing, significant changes to the English lineup are not anticipated for their upcoming match. The team's ability to maintain coherence despite the challenges suggests a preference for continuity over major alterations in their squad composition.
Pakistan, facing a different set of challenges, endured a tough time with their bowling lineup in their game against New Zealand, where their bowlers were heavily tested. Despite this, the team management is expected to retain the same team that achieved a remarkable victory under the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern (DLS) method while chasing a daunting target of 402 runs. This decision to stick with the same lineup indicates confidence in their current squad's abilities and a belief in their potential to replicate the resilience and performance displayed in that extraordinary win.
Pitch and Weather Report
The pitch at Eden Gardens presents an interesting dynamic for the upcoming match. It features some grass coverage but primarily appears dry. Notably, the pitch is positioned off-centre, leading to one side of the boundary being shorter than the other. This aspect could play a significant role in the strategies adopted by the teams, particularly for their batting lineups.
Weather-wise, Kolkata is set for a day conducive to cricket. The forecast predicts clear skies and sunny conditions, with a negligible chance of rain, which bodes well for a full, uninterrupted game. The temperature is expected to be around 27 degrees Celsius, creating a warm playing environment.
Humidity levels are likely to be around 57%, which might add to the players' discomfort slightly, but not significantly. Additionally, a gentle breeze at approximately 5 km per hour will provide some relief from the heat and could subtly influence the game, particularly in terms of swing bowling.
England: Dawid Malan, Jos Buttler (capt/wk), Ben Stokes, Jonny Bairstow, Harry Brook, Adil Rashid, Moeen Ali, Gus Atkinson, Joe Root, Chris Woakes, David Willey
Pakistan: Babar Azam (capt), Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Fakhar Zaman, Abdullah Shafique, Saud Shakeel, Haris Rauf, Agha Salman, Iftikhar Ahmed, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Mohammad Wasim Jnr
The ICC World Cup 2023 match between England and Pakistan will be broadcast live on the Star Sports Network and Disney+ Hotstar in India. English viewers can catch the live action on Sky Sports, while in Pakistan, the game will be telecast on PTV and ARY channels. The match is set to start at 2 PM (IST), with the toss at 1:30 PM (IST). For viewers in England, the live broadcast begins at 8:30 AM BST, and for fans in Pakistan, the coverage starts at 1:30 PM PKT.
The England vs Pakistan encounter at Eden Gardens transcends conventional rivalry, marking a critical juncture for both teams in the World Cup. England seeks to salvage pride from a disastrous campaign, while Pakistan chases a slender hope for advancement. Amidst challenges and unexpected turns, this match is not just about victory but a battle for legacy, showcasing the resilience and spirit that define the essence of international cricket.
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