Rivals England fire up Shahid Afridi for T20 series in Dubai
Last Updated: 25/11/15 12:12pm
Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi cannot wait to go up against England in the three-match T20 series that starts on Thursday in Dubai.
These are important times for the international sides in the shorter format with a chance to experiment with just over three months to go until the World Twenty20 in March in India.
Pakistan finished runners-up in the first edition of the World Twenty20 in 2007 before winning the crown two years later in England and are now ranked No 2 in the game, six places above this week's opponents.
They need to win the series, at least by a 2-1 margin, to maintain their standings - a fact Afridi believes will spur on his team.
"We want to settle down before the World Twenty20," said Afridi.
"Besides that we are ranked number two so it's an important series for us in many ways and we will do our best to win it."
Pakistan are likely to get two to three Twenty20 matches if their series against India is held next month, before they head to New Zealand for another three matches. They will also feature in the Asia Cup to be held in Bangladesh in February.
Pakistan are hampered by the absence of ace spinner Saeed Ajmal, who is struggling with a new bowling action which needed alteration after it was deemed illegal.
Besides Ajmal, the highest wicket-taker in all Twenty20 cricket with 85, paceman Umar Gul (joint second highest with 83 wickets) was also not selected as he is recovering from injury, while opening batsman Mohammad Hafeez is banned from bowling.
England, who won the World Twenty20 in 2010, are ranked eighth in T20 but coach Trevor Bayliss believes their 3-1 one-day success over Pakistan last week will give the squad a big boost.
"England players should have a lot of confidence from the way they've played going into the three T20 matches, knowing they can play in these conditions against this quality of opposition," said Bayliss whose team lost the Test series 2-0.
Bayliss, from Australia, said the series will help his team prepare for the World Twenty20.
"We want to play this T20 series and win that as well as we possibly can, but it's also a bit of a testing ground," he added.
The remaining two matches will be held in Dubai (Friday) and Sharjah (Monday).
Pakistan: Shahid Afridi (captain), Ahmed Shehzad, Mohammad Hafeez, Rafatullah Mohmand, Shoaib Malik, Sohaib Maqsood, Umar Akmal, Mohammad Rizwan, Sarfraz Ahmed, Anwar Ali, Bilal Asif, Imran Khan junior, Mohammad Irfan, Sohail Tanvir, Wahab Riaz, Aamer Yamin
England: Eoin Morgan (capt), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Chris Jordan, Alex Hales, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, James Taylor, Reece Topley, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Liam Plunkett
Watch the first Twenty20 between Pakistan and England live on Sky Sports 2 this Thursday from 3.30pm.