A lack of batting strength in England's top order will ultimately prove to be their demise in the U-19 Tri-Nation Tournament following the hosts' poor display in their opening match against Pakistan.
In stark contrast to that of England's top order, Pakistan got off to a flyer with captain, and opening batsman, Samim Islam hitting a quickfire 60 off 79 balls whilst opening partner Imran Butt notched 22 before being dismissed off the bowling of 15-year-old Matthew Fisher.
In came Imam-ul-Haq who, as CricInfo report, took the game beyond England with a hugely impressive knock of 120 off just 142 balls after a somewhat disappointing score of just 9 against Bangladesh in the tournament opener:
Imam made just 9 against Bangladesh on Monday but here played a fine 142-ball innings with 10 fours and two sixes. His stand with his captain Sami Aslam took up most of the innings, the pair adding 145 for the second wicket with Aslam making 60 in 79 balls.
With a very achievable score of 289 to chase, England's faults came to the fore as opening batsmen Ryan Higgins and Lewis McManus, as well as Haseeb Hameed all departed for less than 20.
Higgins' dismissal was typical of a young batsman in a rush to get his eye in and make an impact, and in doing so chased a ball that should have been left well alone. A lack of cohesion throughout the top order was soon evident as McManus opted to try and stick around, scoring just 16 runs in 54 minutes before departing.
Along with Hameeb's dismissal for 11, England looked to be in trouble only for Harry Finch and Will Rhodes to put on an impressive partnership – Rhodes making 102 and Finch 50.
A relatively heavy 46-run defeat magnified a real lack of strength in the top order. The pitch at London Road should not have caused any problems - which proved not to be the case for the Pakistan team - so it leads one to look at the characters of the young men that lead the way.
Although all relatively young, none of the players should suffer from nerves, especially with youngster Matthew Fisher in the side who, as the Guardian reported, became the youngest ever County Cricket debutant.
Maturity and a cool head when it really matters is something all cricketers must possess and, after witnessing this initial batting performance, it is clearly evident that a number of these men may not be quite up to the task.
Either way, England must pull themselves together or they face a disappointing early exit from the Under-19 Tri-Nation Tournament as the hosts.
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