Wow. This was next level.
The signs get stronger and stronger for the hosts as they head to the World Cup tournament in a quest for their maiden title.
The English team has gone on from strength to strength, thus making them more palpable and a glaring contenders to lift the World Cup.
The five-match series against Pakistan gave the home side just enough time to decide the correct combinations. While there still remain a few spots up for grabs, there were encouraging signs of how almost every Englishman put their hands up in each venue to put them in the driver’s seat.
We take a look at how the English team finalised their preparations ahead of the World Cup, having given almost everyone game time and each member coming to the party.
Southampton and Bristol (The tale of fiery opening combination)
It was their top-order that clicked in the second and the third game in Southampton and Bristol respectively, leaving no room to think of another combination. The duo of Jason Roy and Jonny Bairstow remained unfazed, irrespective of how steep the mountain looked like.
It was also in Southampton that Jos Buttler and Eoin Morgan displayed how death overs must be dealt with.
The dynamic opening pair also aimed to put a record-breaking total every time they were sent to bat first. Southampton and Bristol were where England fielded a full-strength batting side. And the one which they are likely to send out in the main tournament.
Nottingham (Ben Stokes hits back for England with the bat and bowlers find their feet)
At Nottingham, with that game to seal the series, Eoin Morgan’s men decided to tinker with the batting order. The man in charge, Morgan himself was forced to miss, owing to slow over-rate.
Even as the opening combination was dabbled with, the run flow didn’t happen to stop. Although Jason Roy put them on course with classy yet devastating innings, it was after his departure that their middle-order flustered slightly.
It was time for their premier all-rounder Ben Stokes to step up to take England home and justify his selection among men, every one of whom wasn’t ruling themselves out to make it to the final fifteen.
And he did so, with few shaves of luck. The innings was far more streaky and Pakistan’s sloppy fielding had its name written on it. Nonetheless, the knock did Stokes a world of good. For the USP that England holds that their every bowler can bat, Tom Curran demonstrated his all-round value with an invaluable cameo to help them chase a target of 342 successfully.
Headingley (England lose steam yet manage to put Pakistan out of the game)
At Headingley, the hosts again trifled with the opening pair. Though the approach from James Vince and Jonny Bairstow didn’t change one bit, it was their sedate batsman Joe Root’s turn along with the skipper to shift gears.
Jos Buttler’s brief and destructive stay was followed by a wobble. Courtesy of them peaking earlier in the innings, the Englishmen have regularly found themselves well within sight of the 400-run mark. It looked like a similar story until the Pakistani bowlers kept them to 351.
Despite being tipped as the batsmen’s series well before the start of it, the English bowlers did just enough to hang on to four wins. But among the bowlers. Tom Curran and Chris Woakes were the ones who made a strong statement for the World Cup in the concluded series against Pakistan.
Looking at the big picture, England seems to be fully ready. The true Test of their batting might in all likelihood is set to come against bowling attacks with most varieties and electrifying fielding sides.
In the bowling front, while the team has got plenty of options to choose from, sticking with an attack that requires less chopping and changing would be the key.