In the run up to the 2019 World Cup beginning at the end of May England host Pakistan in a five matches series as follows:
8th Day/Night, The Oval London
14th Day/Night, Bristol
17th Day/Night Nottingham
They go into the of the ICC rankings 6th in the format with England top, a rise that has been consistent since their early exit in the 2015 World Cup and subsequent changes to produce a much more aggressive strategy. They go into the forthcoming home world cup favourites.
Pakistan won the Champions Trophy in England in this format in 2017 beating England in the semi-finals but have been in poor form since including losing heavily at home to Australia 5-0 this winter, albeit a series in which 8 players were rested. They have had an injury blow in the absence of world class 20 year old leg spinner Shadab Khan and there are concerns about their middle order power hitting but the top of the order is strong and experienced and the fast bowling ranks well stocked. Fitness and fielding is also much improved under their Australian Head coach now in his third year in the job.
Since the 2017 Champions Trophy Pakistan have an economy rate of only 6.3 runs per over in the last ten overs of an ODI inning, second only to South Africa of the major teams.
England have some selection with Billings out and Hales is suspended and out of the international summer. This is a team though that can still call upon Bairstow, Moeen and Buttler returning from the IPL plus being able to introduce Jofra Archer for his international debut to play alongside a team packed with all-rounders that has a lot of bases covered.
The format is extremely friendly to batsmen and big totals, with two white balls an innings that rarely swing and batsman friendly wickets produced. English conditions can produce unexpected variables in any match with early morning starts but so far this season totals have been high across all formats in a dry early season spell.
I think a close series is likely. England’s weaknesses are the lack of a real match winning spinner and a tendency to produce an occasional poor performance out of nowhere. For the first game of the series prices are England 2/5 Pakistan 15/8 with Skybet. This really underestimates Pakistan’s competitiveness and I would have them underdogs, but a shorter price. I would back them at 15/8