In England’s last World Cup pregame walk against Pakistan, Liam Livingstone demonstrated once again why he is regarded as one of the game’s most potent big white-ball hitters.
Upon his return from the odd ankle injury that has kept him out since August, Livingstone smashed two sixes, the first of which was a monstrous shot off Shadab Khan into the top tier of an empty Gabba in his 28 off 16 balls.
It remains to be seen, though, if it will be sufficient to get him into the starting lineup for the World Cup opening against Afghanistan in Perth on Saturday.
Livingstone was dropped twice by a subpar Pakistan and seemed to tumble once on his injured left ankle from tripping on a sidewalk.
Jos Buttler, the captain of England, is rumored to want to start the tournament with an additional bowler, most likely Sam Curran, at number seven, which means Livingstone could have to compete with Harry Brook, the rising star of English cricket, for a spot in the middle order.
In addition, Brook improved his prospects by hitting three massive sixes of his own during his most successful innings in Australia thus far, an amazing unbeaten 45 off 24 balls.
The 2-0 victory against Australia and England’s 4-3 victory in Pakistan in the lead-up to this event were enough to give England another easy win, but this was not at all like the intense competition they saw in those two series.
While the games against Pakistan and Australia were recognized as legitimate internationals, the ICC obliged England to participate in this game when they would have preferred to return immediately to Perth after finishing their Australian series in Canberra.
The ICC furthered their dubious choice by ordering that this game, as well as an earlier match between Australia and India here, both of which were aired, be played behind closed doors, which infuriated local spectators.
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But at least England will leave for the west on Tuesday after another job well done, with Ben Stokes also spending crucial time in the middle and hitting three sixes in his 36, and Curran finishing the job alongside Brook with 33 off 14 balls as England went past Pakistan’s 160 for 8 in a game that was reduced to 19 overs due to rain with 27 balls remaining.
No less than eight England bowlers practiced throughout Pakistan’s innings, while Pakistan similarly appeared uninterested in another game against a team they played against seven times in the previous month.
At least Livingstone’s first-ball wicket of Pakistan’s leading run-getter Shan Masood for 39 will make England delighted. He should have had a second when Shadab Khan was dropped by Chris Jordan two balls later. Livingstone, who was back in action, only allowed eight runs from his two spin overs.
Although Jordan was the only England bowler to throw four overs, he could be out of time to make the team for Saturday’s World Cup opener against Afghanistan.
As may David Willey, despite the fact that he claimed two wickets in quick succession in two costly overs that netted 22 runs.
The fact that England bowled 10 wides between them in the 19 overs was possibly the biggest letdown in their bowling performance and may have been a reflection of their reluctance to go to Brisbane for such a low-key match.
While Alex Hales, who will start in place of Phil Salt opposite Jos Buttler, was another player to give his wicket away cheaply, he appears set to miss out on Saturday. Phil Salt lost his opportunity to have a hit in England’s reply.
Forget it. England made the most of this rather pointless drill that they were able to. Now let’s get down to business.