CARDIFF, (Reuters) – England are considering changing their top order for the Champions Trophy semi-final against Pakistan, captain Eoin Morgan said yesterday, indicating that they will replace out-of-form opener Jason Roy with Jonny Bairstow.
“There is a chance there will be a change,” said Morgan of today’s game. “Jonny Bairstow is our next man in line. He is a very fine batsman. One thing he does exceptionally well is deal with no baggage.
“He comes in and wants to prove everyone wrong the whole time, it’s been a huge attribute in him scoring runs when he has had a chance.”
South African-born Roy, who watched yesterday’s net session with arms folded from the sidelines, has scored 51 runs in eight ODIs this summer and was dismissed
second ball in England’s final group game against Australia.
England have previously insisted that players would be allowed to bat themselves back into form.
“Everyone goes through a bad run and that’s expected,” Morgan said of Roy. “If someone happens to miss out then they’re not going to be too far away from our plans in the future.”
Bairstow is in prime form after striking a career-best 174 off 113 balls while opening for his county Yorkshire against Durham last month. But the 27-year-old has never filled the role in an ODI and they could decide to juggle the order and promote Moeen Ali.
Either way England, the only unbeaten team in the tournament, will go into the game as favourites after winning 11 out of 12 ODIs and posting in excess of 300 in five of the past six matches in which they have batted first.
While Roy has failed, every other batsman has hit form with Alex Hales (151), Joe Root (212), Eoin Morgan (175) and Ben Stokes (150) among the top 11 tournament run scorers.
In 47 ODIs since their abject failure at the 2015 World Cup England batsmen have scored 25 centuries, compared with 22 in 88 matches during the previous four years.
Pakistan came into the tournament as the eighth-ranked team and are highly unpredictable, only just qualifying for the last four by beating Sri Lanka by three wickets in a see-saw game on Monday.
But Morgan will be wary of a side who clearly relish conditions in Cardiff where last
year they chased down a target of 303 to beat England, with Sarfraz Ahmed hitting 90.
Pakistan are also considering changes with coach Mickey Arthur planning to meet captain Sarfraz later yesterday to see whether he should bat higher after his unbeaten 61 saw them home against Sri Lanka.
“I am going to have a meeting with Sarfraz at 3, whether him and (Shoaib) Malik need to bat higher up is something we will discuss. I have concerns about the middle order.
“We do sometimes make it difficult for ourselves. We were probably soft at times yesterday (against Sri Lanka),” he said. “But the guys are working very hard. We are evolving as a team.”
Asked about the team’s unpredictability, he said: “Sometimes, that’s our strength… Our unpredictability.”