Pakistan’s drawn Test series with England was the latest step in the country’s fascinating ascent to the summit of the world rankings.
Having adopted the UAE as their home 2009, the climb Misbah-ul-Haq orchestrated as captain has been nothing short of miraculous.
However, the final assignment on their tour to these shores involves a white ball and coloured clothing.
For good reason, the 42-year-old Misbah doesn’t play limited overs cricket, and the ICC’s rankings paint an entirely different picture of Pakistan’s capabilities.
Sat in ninth place in that list – the lowest of all the Test-playing nations – the visitors look a far weaker proposition for the five-game ODI series against Eoin Morgan’s side than the one that just impressed in the Test arena.
That drop in quality is reflected in the betting, which makes the hosts 1/4 favourites to pick up the silverware, with Pakistan at 3/1.
The England’s 50-over specialists have returned to the setup and descended on Hampshire’s Rose Bowl for the first clash.
Jason Roy, Adil Rashid, Chris Jordan and Liam Plunkett are all increasingly important cogs in England’s ODI wheel these days, but it is the reappearance of Jos Buttler and Mark Wood that is the most intriguing from a betting point of view.
The former has only played one match for Lancashire since his last international involvement against Sri Lanka in July.
A fractured thumb playing in the T20 Blast has limited Buttler’s game time, but having now fully recovered, the explosive batsman stands to play a full part against Pakistan.
Odds of 7/1 that he’s England’s top runscorer on the south coast look particularly plump considering the wicketkeeper can often move up the order to bat at number four. He also averaged 90 against Angelo Mathews’ men earlier in the summer.
Similarly, Wood has had a spell out of the game through injury. However, the Durham fast bowler returned to action far sooner than his Ashes-winning teammate and has been in fine fettle.
He took 4/25 in Durham’s T20 semi-final against Yorkshire last weekend and has been regularly taking wickets in limited overs outings for the north-east county over the last month.
We currently make him 7/2 to lead the way with the ball for England at the Rose Bowl.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.