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Twenty20 - Cricket: Pakistan vs England first T20 preview

England's first tour of Pakistan in 17 years begins in Karachi on Tuesday with the first of seven Twenty20 internationals between the sides.

Not since 2005 have England played in Pakistan, having pulled out of a tour last year due to safety concerns.

But now the team are in Karachi and ready to begin their preparations for this year's T20 World Cup in Australia, which gets underway with the first round on Sunday 16th October.

It is sure to be a tough series for England, who are still adjusting to life under new white-ball captain Jos Buttler and have a 19-man squad at their disposal.

These sides will also lock horns in a warm-up contest just before the World Cup in October.

What:

Pakistan vs England, first Twenty20

Where:

National Stadium, Karachi

When:

15:30, Tuesday 20th September 2022

How to watch:

Sky Sports Main Event and Cricket

Odds:Pakistan 4/6, England 6/5

Pakistan remain a force in T20 cricket

England lost their most recent T20 series 2-1 to South Africa on home soil back in July, losing the final match by 90 runs at the Rose Bowl.

That followed a series defeat by the same scoreline against India in Buttler's first series after taking charge as limited-overs captain.

And while their Test team shows signs of improvement under the stewardship of head coach Brendon McCullum and captain Ben Stokes, there are concerns the white-ball side are going backwards, although they remain 4/1 shots to win this year's World Cup.

The series with Pakistan should give a better indication of exactly where this England team are, with the Men in Green having impressed on the biggest stages recently.

Spearheaded by the ever-reliable Babar Azam, Pakistan impressed at the T20 World Cup 2021, winning all five of their matches in the group stage and reaching the tournament's semi-finals, in which they were beaten by Australia, who went on to lift the trophy.

And only earlier this month, Pakistan made an impact at the Asia Cup, beating India in the Super Four phase on their way to the final.

Once again they came up short - this time by 23 runs against Sri Lanka - but everything is in place for a decent World Cup and they look a solid bet at 4/6 to win the first T20 in Karachi.

England have plenty of work to do ahead of the World Cup and could take time to settle into the series, so expect Pakistan to begin on the front foot.

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Rizwan a reliable source of runs for the Men in Green

When looking at who is most likely to make the difference for Pakistan, most would opt for star player Azam.

The 27-year-old typically reaches his best when it matters most, having struck a chart-topping 303 runs in the T20 World Cup last year.

But in the Asia Cup, Azam did not look his usual self, striking only 68 runs in his team's six matches in the tournament and it was instead his opening partner Mohammad Rizwan who rose to the occasion.

No player bettered Rizwan's total of 281 runs in the tournament and he looks a decent bet at 5/6 to start the T20 series with England with over 38.5 runs.

Rizwan has surpassed that runs line in four of his last six T20 internationals and he could also be worth a bet to be his side's top runscorer in the match at 13/5.

Azam has been hit-and-miss recently and the team's middle-order have also been pretty unreliable with Fakhar Zaman (zero), Mohammad Nawaz (six), Khushdil Shah (two), Asif Ali (zero) and Shadab Khan (eight) all failing to hit double figures in the Asia Cup final.

Hales can mark England return with top score

The biggest talking point in the England camp ahead of this match is the return of batsman Alex Hales, who will be involved in his first international series in three and a half years.

Hales joined the fold following a loss of form from Jason Roy and an injury sustained by Jonny Bairstow and he could be a decent bet at 10/3 to mark the occasion with a top score for his side.

Hales was impressive in the most recent edition of The Hundred, piling on 259 runs in nine innings for Trent Rockets and he averages 31.01 in T20 internationals.

England skipper Buttler misses the series opener through injury, meaning someone else will need to step up to the plate with the bat and Hales could fit the bill.

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