England was forced to announce a second-string squad for their limited-overs series against Pakistan when seven members of their team were tested positive for COVID-19. While everyone expected Pakistan to roll over a fairly inexperienced England squad, the opposite happened and the home team thrashed the Men in Green in the first two ODIs of the three-match series.
Fast bowler Saqib Mahmood indeed made the most of this golden opportunity and impressed the skipper Ben Stokes in the two ODIs. The 24-year-old had a dream start in the first ODI when he managed to dismiss Pakistan skipper Babar Azam for a duck. He picked four wickets in that match and skittled the opposition out for just 141. The pacer continued his good form in the next game and added two more wickets to his tally.
With regular players missing out, Mahmood made sure he is more than an able backup option to England’s first-choice seamers. Stokes was mighty impressed by the performances put in by the 24-year-old and lauded the efforts of his team who pulled off an unlikely series victory.
“With the squad getting wiped out, the one positive was that we could see guys come who have been on the fringe and, for Saqi, coming in and being the senior bowler has done him the world of good,” Stokes, England’s stand-in captain, said on Monday to Cricket Pakistan.
The stand-in England skipper further opined how Mahmood always wants the ball in his hand and how composed he is in all situations. “He hasn’t been fazed by anything, he’s been taking the new ball and I’ve asked him to come back on at crucial times in games where he’s performed really well.”
“So from an individual point of view it’s done him the world of good and from an England point of view, it’s another player that lads will have to look over their shoulder for.”
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