Cardiff - Pakistan cricket team has been eyeing consolation victory against upbeat England team in the fifth and last One-day International (ODI) to be played at Cardiff today (Sunday) to avoid a whitewash in the five-match series.

One after another, Pakistan have been on the receiving end, of a side that had once been what they are now. From Southampton to Leeds, the climax has been identical almost everywhere Pakistan have travelled wearing green outfit.

Eoin Morgan’s vibrant England ODI side has added in Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur’s notebook, a number of points that need introspection, gaping holes that need to be healed. Much in a similar way to what Albert Einstein said about life, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving,” Pakistan can’t afford to stand still, or ponder upon failure. They, are definitely on the verge of transformation after a No 9-like display in the ODI series. But with still one final clash at Cardiff left, can they somehow spring up to find a consolation win, a win that would do them a world of good?

The five-match ODI series, ever since its start has just one away from Pakistan; far, far and away, beyond reach. They never looked good enough to win it from England. Their captain has been under criticism, the coach has given the unit a warning, the legends have been left fuming and amidst all this, Pakistan’s outdated limited-overs brand of cricket has still continued, with no results in their favour. They now face a might challenge in front of them to avoid a 5-0 series whitewash, at the hands of England who have never achieved that feat, ever.

Perhaps, a transformation is on its way. But the two games left on the tour to England, one 50-over game at Cardiff and one T20 international at Manchester, are the last opportunities for anyone who desires to become a part of Arthur’s action-plan. It’s a chance to deliver and buy a ticket for the next limited-overs series. It is almost as if the train is leaving the station, all those who want to get on-board, must rush now.

While the next game might be a dead-rubber, it does hold its own importance for Azhar Ali and his men. Perhaps, every ODI game they approach from now on, will have its own value. They have been outclassed in the series, and they know it. They lie at the ninth position in the ICC team rankings and now they also know why they are stuck there.

Coming from a high-spirited Test performance against Alastair Cook’s men, when Misbah-ul-Haq’s warriors scripted a series leveling 2-2, win at Kennington Oval, Pakistan have been exactly the opposite of themselves. The No.1 Test-ranked team in the world is at an embarrassing No.9 in the ODI list.

“It is what it is,” said Arthur, who only took over as Pakistan coach in May. “I hate the phrase, but we are number nine in the world and we can see why.” Arthur has a massive task at hands now, but first he has to know, who are the men, who can take Pakistan’s limited-overs cricket on their shoulders to new heights, bring back their lost stature.

Before his team go out on the field at Cardiff, a motivational speech might pump up the men-in-green, for they have a shameful series loss to avoid. Only, what they do on the pitch will matter, and nothing less than their A game will be enough. They, by now, know that. It’s time, they bring out that. At least then, the first brick in a to-be-constructed wall, will be laid.

PAKISTAN: Azhar Ali (capt), Sharjeel Khan, Sami Aslam, M Hafeez, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), M Rizwan, M Aamir, Wahab Riaz, Umar Gul, Hasan Ali, Imad Wasim, Yasir Shah, M Nawaz.

ENGLAND: Eoin Morgan (capt), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler (wk), Liam Dawson, Chris Jordan, Alex Hales, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Jake Ball, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.


The lowest strike-rate of an England player in the XI at Headingley - when the match was completed - was David Willey's 81.17. When they lost against Bangladesh at the 2015 World Cup, to exit the tournament, they had seven players with strike-rates under 80.

After his 3 for 47 at Headingley, Adil Rashid is now the leading ODI wicket-taker since the last World with 38 scalps at 38.36, although he has played nine games more than second-placed Kagiso Rabada and seven more than fellow legspinner Imran Tahir, who is third.

Moeen's straight six to win the fourth match was England's 157th ODI six since the last World Cup - that is 29 clear of New Zealand, who are the next best. Perhaps surprisingly, Pakistan are third with 108, although from considerably more matches than the top two.