England v Pakistan – Eoin Morgan ready to adapt in pursuit of ultimate World Cup prize

ENGLAND captain Eoin Morgan remained tight-lipped last night about the prospect of changing a winning formula ahead of his side’s second World Cup fixture against Pakistan at Trent Bridge.

England's Eoin Morgan (left) and Ben Stokes during the ICC Cricket World Cup group stage match at The Oval. Picture: Nigel French/PA
England's Eoin Morgan (left) and Ben Stokes during the ICC Cricket World Cup group stage match at The Oval. Picture: Nigel French/PA

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There have been suggestions England could freshen up their pace attack later today in an attempt to keep everyone firing on all cylinders, with Mark Wood tipped to enter the fray after missing the 104-run win over South Africa on Thursday.

The prospect of Wood teaming up with Jofra Archer – both of whom are capable of reaching speeds of 90mph-plus – is an enticing one.

Such a partnership could easily open the wounds in a team who flapped under a series of bouncers from the Caribbean quicks on Friday, which sees Pakistan come into the game fresh from a hammering at the hands of the West Indies at the same venue.

With Trent Bridge also being where England have posted the two biggest scores in ODI history over the past three years and only one result seems likely.

“It might happen, if it does that would be awesome,” said Morgan, about the prospect of Wood and Archer teaming up. “We saw the wicket the other day went through with more pace and exposed Pakistan, more so with the short ball. That might be a trend for the tournament.”

IN THE FRAME: England fast bowler, Mark Wood. Picture: AP/Ricardo Mazalan

“I think there’s a good case for playing any of our bowlers.

“We’ll have to adapt to anything the wicket throws up. If there is anything to exploit, hopefully we’ll select the right team.

“It is exciting.

“It’s like saying can you add a Jason Roy 180 to a Jos Buttler 150 off 70 or 80 balls – it might happen and if it does that would be awesome.”

England have twice set new world records for the highest score in a one-day international at Trent Bridge – bludgeoning Pakistan to the tune of 444-3 in 2016 before overhauling the benchmark with 481-6 against Australia 12 months ago.

Morgan said: “To get something near that you need to play unbelievably well.

“It starts with the very basics with getting yourself into an innings and each batter starting and trying to establish a partnership.”

England warmed up for the World Cup with a 4-0 series victory over Pakistan, but Morgan is all too familiar with the unpredictability of Sarfraz Ahmed’s side, who dumped England out of the Champions Trophy two years ago en route to lifting the trophy.

Morgan added: “We’re preparing for Pakistan at their best.

“Only two years ago they were the best side in the Champions Trophy, they turned us over, they turned India over.

“We’ll be preparing as best we can for Pakistan to bring their A-game.”

Pakistan bowling coach Azhar Mahmood insists their batsmen must be prepared after readily admitting the bouncer ploy is likely to be liberally used by their next opponents today.

“We didn’t handle the short ball really well (against the West Indies) and we practised a lot, and we know it will come,” he said.

“When teams come from the subcontinent the other teams will use those sort of tactics.

“All the teams will bowl short against us so we are practising, and we’ve done it before, so I think we need to move on and concentrate on the next game.”

Morgan, meanwhile, has credited Ben Stokes with rallying the nation behind the hosts’ World Cup cause.

Stokes was the star of the show on day one against South Africa, producing an instant classic catch that was beamed around the globe, as well as making key contributions with bat and ball.

It was a dream performance for tournament organisers, who are desperate to break beyond the sport’s usual supporter base, and left Morgan in awe of the all-rounder’s ability to excite fans of all ages.

Morgan admitted Stokes has set a tone of optimism among the team and its followers.

“Everybody can experience taking a great catch, getting runs or taking wickets, just having one of those days where everything goes right... kids all the way through to grandads,” he added.

“Everyone from five years old to 75 who watched the game the other day can relate.

“It gives us a sneak peek into the potential cricket has to grow and the exposure it might have over the next five to six weeks.”