England and Pakistan to use T20 series to gauge World Cup readiness

Karachi will play host to four matches with the other three to be staged in Lahore

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England kick off their first tour of Pakistan in 17 years in Karachi on Tuesday with the first of a seven-match Twenty20 series in which both teams hope to fine-tune their preparations for the World Cup in Australia next month.

England last played in Pakistan in 2005 and were due to visit last year, but cancelled at short notice after New Zealand pulled out of a tour citing safety concerns. Jos Buttler's men were only given the green light to tour this year after a security team evaluated the situation on the ground.

Security issues have meant Pakistan struggled to attract visiting sides since an attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in 2009, but tours have slowly resumed in the past few years.

Karachi will play host to four matches with the other three to be staged in Lahore. England are set to return in December to play three Tests in the second leg of the tour.

With Buttler set to miss the Karachi leg as he recovers from a knee injury, the side will be led by Moeen Ali, whose grandfather came to England from Pakistan after the Second World War.

"It is going to be memorable playing in front of the Pakistani crowds and also an immense honour to deputize for Jos Buttler, while he recovers from injury, and captain England," Moeen wrote in his column for the Daily Mail.

"Of course, this tour is important for cricket and it is also crucial for us as a side.

"Seven T20s will be a stern test in these conditions and a good pointer for where we are, ahead of the World Cup in Australia next month," added the all-rounder.

At least 10 members of the current England squad have some experience of local conditions courtesy of their Pakistan Super League (PSL) stints.

England team arrive in Karachi

One of them, Alex Hales, will be particularly keen to impress after his three-year absence from international cricket due to an off-field issue.

England are also without Liam Livingstone and Chris Jordan as they recover from ankle and finger injuries respectively. Test captain Ben Stokes has been rested ahead of the T20 World Cup.

Pakistan, meanwhile, will look to shrug off the disappointment of losing to Sri Lanka in the Asia Cup final in Dubai earlier this month.

Skipper Babar Azam's slump in form, and their overall batting approach in 20-overs cricket, have been major talking points and Pakistan will look to iron out the kinks during the course of the series.

England begin their Twenty20 World Cup campaign against Afghanistan in Perth on October 22, a day before Pakistan's opener against arch-rivals India in Melbourne.

Updated: September 19, 2022, 7:41 AM
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