Recent history and form in the longer format clearly doesn’t put Pakistan at an advantage going into the Test series against England. Between 2001 and 2018, the Men in Green have not won one a single Test series in the Old Blighty. Their last assignment on English soil in 2018 ended in a 1-1 stalemate.
However, as is often said about them, if there’s one team in world cricket which can upset the odds and rewrite history on their day, it is Pakistan.
While their last overseas Test series in Australia ended in an ignominious loss, Pakistan will line up as equals with their English counterparts when the series gets underway at Old Trafford in Manchester.
While not taking anything away from the way England trounced the West Indies in the recent Test series at home, with their batters coming good in cruch situations, there isn’t much to differentiate between the two teams in the batting department.
A fair bowling contest
However, with Stuart Broad, Jimmy Anderson and Jofra Archer in the mix, one would have to say England has the better of the two bowling line-ups going into the series. If the English bowlers manage to carry the momentum from the last series into the Old Trafford Test, then they would be more than handful for Pakistan.
While Broad is arguably bowling the best he ever has, Anderson and Archer are ready to rattle Pakistan with swing and pace.
However, Pakistan, though lacking the experience and proven quality at this level, has enough firepower in its bowling to put England in trouble.
In Mohammad Abbas, they have someone who can home in on a length ball after ball and play on the batsman’s patience till he gets out to a loose shot. While he bowls medium pace, his accuracy and skill make him an bowling asset, especially in English conditions.
In Shaheen Shah Afridi and Naseem Shah, they have bowlers who can beat the stoutest of defences with raw pace. In the spin department, they have the wily, old Yasir Shah, who is still good enough to trick batters at this level. They have also have a back-up option in Kashif Bhatti, a promising slow left-arm spinner.
Inexperienced batting line-ups
In the batting department, however,the two teams have similar inexperience, with Joe Root and Ben Stokes giving England a slight edge. While Broad and Co.
Would love to have a crack at the Pakistan top three of Shan Masood, Abid Ali and Babar Azam with the red cherry, the Pakistani new ball bowlers would also fancy themselves against the likes of Rory Burns, Dom Sibley and Zak Crawley.
Having stalwarts such as Misbah ul Haq, Younis Khan,Waqar Younis and Mushtaq Ahmed in the coaching staff would be of immense help to youngsters in the squad, as they can bounce ideas of them and turn to them for advice as and when they need.
While the English batting will revolve around captain Joe Root and the talismanic Stokes, the Pakistanis would hedge their bets on young Babar Azam. A lot will depend on the gifted right-hander if Pakistan is to post a big score in the first innings, should they take the first dig at Manchester.
So expect a tough contest when the two teams go to battle at Manchester. Coach Misbah has urged his men to be battle-ready saying, “We should be ready for an England team that have already had three matches of experience and won their last two Test matches,” Misbah said.
However, like the pundits often say, much will depend on which Pakistan turns up on the day.
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