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Cardiff washout dents England's World Cup preparation

Sophia Gardens outfield with covers up and umbrellas in the crowd

Third T20: Sophia Gardens, Cardiff

England: Did not bat

Pakistan: Did not bat

Match abandoned without a ball bowled, England lead series 1-0

England's World Cup preparation was dented further by a washout in the third T20 against Pakistan in Cardiff.

Persistent rain fell throughout the evening which led to the game being abandoned without a ball bowled just after 20:10 BST.

The first match of the four-game series at Headingley was also rained off, before England took a 1-0 lead at Edgbaston on Jofra Archer's long-awaited return from injury.

The final match, which is live on BBC Two and iPlayer, takes place at The Oval on Thursday, when rain is forecast again.

Jos Buttler's side begin their T20 World Cup defence on 4 June against Scotland, but do not have any warm-up matches in the Caribbean.

Captain Buttler was not with the squad in Cardiff because of the expected arrival of his third child, with all-rounder Moeen Ali set to stand in as skipper.

It has not yet been confirmed whether Buttler will rejoin the squad in London.

This series, essentially an unofficial tournament warm-up for both sides, was a crucial one for head coach Matthew Mott and Buttler's fine-tuning of their World Cup squad.

Fast bowler Archer bowled four overs at Edgbaston in his first match for more than a year, and was not expected to play in Cardiff as they manage his workload.

But if there is no play at The Oval, only one outing would not be ideal preparation for such an important player for England with such serious injury troubles.

For some players, particularly batters, it may not be as significant with the likes of Buttler, Will Jacks, Phil Salt and Jonny Bairstow enjoying success in the Indian Premier League, though they returned home early from the tournament for this series.

However, England have not played a T20 series since a 3-2 defeat by West Indies in December, and of the 20 teams that will be appearing in the World Cup there are only four - South Africa, Scotland, the Netherlands and the USA - that have played fewer than England's 13 T20s since the last tournament in 2022.

"England will have been banking on these games," said World Cup winner Alex Hartley on BBC Test Match Special.

"It's the classic one where the players will say they can't control the weather, which is understandable, but you want to be playing competitively before a global tournament.

"There is a real fine line between being cooked for cricket and undercooked - you have got to get that right.

"You want to find some form before the World Cup and if you do lose a couple of games you can find out where you’re going wrong as a team and where you can get better."