England skipper Eoin Morgan has indicated that Jonny Bairstow is likely to replace the out-of-form opener Jason Roy for the semi-final encounter against Pakistan at Cardiff. While Bairstow has proven his form time and again lately, Roy has failed to cross 20-run mark in the last nine ODI innings.
"There's a chance that we could make a change. Obviously, we don't announce the team until the toss - but there's a chance there could be a change. I mentioned after the last game that we're getting to the business end of the tournament and we need to produce results, so it's important that we get what we feel is our best XI to win the tournament out tomorrow in order to win the game," reported PTI.
Roy has averaged a horrible 6.37 in the eight ODI innings so far this season, with as many as six single-digit scores to his name. On the other hand, Bairstow has been in very good nick, scoring three fifties in his last four innings.
"Jonny's qualities are that he's a fantastic batsman," Morgan said. "I think his best attribute, certainly in white-ball cricket over the last year and a half, has been his relentless attitude to score runs regardless of the situation. When you have guys sitting on the sidelines they can get a little bit upset and that can affect their performance when the actual chance comes along, but that doesn't seem to affect Jonny.”
If Bairstow gets the nod to play against Pakistan today, then he is likely to open in international cricket for the first time. He has, however, been a successful opener in domestic cricket for Yorkshire and made his highest score of 174, for Yorkshire against Durham last month, batting from that position. And Morgan, who appeared to be a strong supporter of Roy despite his repeated failures, believes that Bairstow could grab the opportunity with both the hands.
"One innings he did play for us won us a series, against New Zealand, a match-winning knock up at Durham two years ago - and that sort of sums him up, he came from playing for Yorkshire, straight into the squad having played no part in the series, and he produces a match-winning knock. So I think his all-round ability is as good as we have in the squad. But, like I've mentioned before, it's a very difficult team to get into and you've just got to wait for your chance.
"I'd have no worries if he has to open the batting. I certainly believe we're in a good position at the moment as a batting unit and if Jonny does get the opportunity, I'm sure he'll take it with both hands."
On being asked about the Pakistan challenge, the Ireland-born cricketer was confident that his batsmen had plans against Pakistan’s bowling attack. However, he was wary of the used wicket, which might make the hosts deviate from their preferred choice of chasing when they win the toss.
“We’re comfortable with a used wicket, but the nature of this tournament is that the further the tournament goes on, the more you play on used pitches,” he said. “We’ve come up against it before. We’ve raised this before the tournament started with the team, the challenges that we might have to come up against, and it is one of them.
“I’d rather lose the toss, I think. I’m not sure. Honestly not sure. Because it’s a used wicket, because it’s an early start, it draws different factors. If the weather’s as good as it’s supposed to be, yeah, I’m not sure. We’ll have to turn up tomorrow and see how dry the wicket is."
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