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After pulling off a shock win over Pakistan in the first ODI yesterday in Cardiff, Ben Stokes’s stand-in stars are relishing the opportunity play in front of English cricket’s first capacity crowd since September 2019 at Lord’s tomorrow.
After seven positive Covid-19 tests in their original squad, England were forced into making 11 changes – the first time any ODI team has done that – but still waltzed to a simple nine-wicket win over Pakistan.
They had just one training session before the game and gave out five ODI debuts, including to Lewis Gregory (who took 1-11 as Pakistan were bowled out for 141) and Zak Crawley (who made 58 not out in the chase).
The star of the show was Saqib Mahmood who, as a senior player (it was his fifth ODI) in Stokes’ scratch team, picked up career-best figures of four for 42, including two wickets in the first three balls of the match.
Tomorrow’s Second ODI will be played in front of a full house at Lord’s as part of the government’s trial for the return of crowds, with the final match of the series at 75% at Edgbaston.
“There was a small crowd here but you could even hear them at times and with the crowds at Lord’s and Edgbaston that’s why you want to play international cricket,” Mahmood said.
“I have experienced full houses in Roses matches and they’re great spectacles to be in so I’m sure the boys will thrive playing in front of a full house.”
Gregory was equally excited. “Any time you play at Lord’s is amazing and to do that in front of a full house will be special,” he said.
“It’s been a long time playing in front of no-one so to play in front of a full house at Lord’s is going to be amazing. I can’t wait to be there and see how special it really is.”