Despite string of losses, Morgan’s England not taking Pakistan lightly
England captain Eoin Morgan is not complacent ahead of the Pakistan tie. (AFP Image)

NOTTINGHAM: On paper, England are easy favourites to win a second straight game at the Cricket World Cup, but Eoin Morgan insisted that they’re not considering Pakistan’s recent poor record heading into Monday’s game at Trent Bridge. Pakistan are on a barren 11-match losing streak and were handed a sound 0-4 thrashing by England during the one-day series in the lead-up to the World Cup.

But Pakistan have beaten England at home before, most noticeably in the ICC Champions Trophy two years ago when they ended England’s run in the semifinal to eventually win the tournament. As rain curtailed England’s practice session on Sunday, Morgan, a tad disappointed, was quick to remind reporters just what Pakistan are capable of, irrespective of the form they’ve been in.

(ALSO READ: On run-filled pitch, pumped England ready to bounce out Pakistan again)

“We prepare for Pakistan at their best. We’ve certainly seen them only two years ago, they were the best side in the world in the Champions Trophy. They turned us over, they turned India over, who were probably contenders, as well, to the Champions Trophy, so we’ll be preparing as best we can for their A game,” Morgan said on the eve of the match.

On Saturday, batting coach Graham Thorpe played up the idea of Mark Wood’s inclusion in the side even as Morgan tended to keep tight-lipped about his team. Even if Wood dies play, it would likely mean that Liam Plunkett, despite his fine showing against South Africa, might have to sit out. England’s fast bowling stock is filled with match-winners, and the inclusion of Jofra Archer has only bolstered an already impressive fast bowling line-up. Though even in such a scenario, the problem of plenty isn’t one to hinder Morgan.

(ALSO READ: Azhar Mahmood shows faith in Pakistan’s current crop)

“I think there’s a good case for playing any of our bowlers. I think the wicket was a little bit different to the one probably that we’re expecting tomorrow. However, we’ll have to adapt to everything it throws up. It looks a little bit too paced maybe with a bit steeper bounce, having watched it yesterday. But again, if there was anything to exploit, hopefully we’ll select the right team,” he said.

“We’re very happy with our squad. We do recognise that throughout the tournament, wickets will probably get slower and slower and we will need to maybe look at playing three spinners or look at more of a death bowler or a taller bowler into our squad or into our final 11. So we’re looking at all aspects.”

While scampered to a comprehensive win in the World Cup opener, Jofra Archer enjoyed a dream debut, not only for his damaging spell but the sheer fact that he was quick and on the money. Archer may still be young, but do Morgan and England need to be a tad careful in terms of managing him?

“Yes, definitely. Nobody can bowl fast every game. I think we’ve seen that with our fast bowlers in the past. It’s just not possible. It’s like when you have a high-quality batsman who averages over 50, he’s not going to go out and get a hundred every game. It’s just not possible. So yeah, take everything and every day as it comes when it comes to Jofra,” he said.

Speaking of Archer, Morgan compared Archer’s spell to that a couple of brilliant exploits of his teammates. Archer broke the back of South Africa with a crippling spell of 3 for 27, during which he kept troubling the batsmen with a barrage of short-pitch stuff.

“It is exciting, but it’s like saying can you add a Jason Roy 180 to Jos Buttler’s 150, both of them off 70 or 80 balls. It might happen, and if it does, that would be awesome. But we’ll just have to wait and see. Yeah, it’s all on potential and probabilities,” said the England skipper.

The surface in focus for Monday’s game is the one on which England have twice posted record 400-plus totals. However, the fact that although the 300-run barrier has been breached thrice in the tournament already, there have also been a couple of instances of matches finishing quickly.

“It might be the nature of the pitches,” Morgan weighed in. “The pitches look pretty good, like cross-seaming to the wicket, might be getting a better reaction than any of the bowling, potentially coming off two pace, which makes cross-patch shots a little bit harder. You have to take a higher risk, so you might see sides utilizing that from here on in.”