England vs Pakistan Test Series: Can the visitors brush off the ring rust?
Test cricket action will continue in England, as the hosts will welcome Pakistan for a three-match Test series starting Wednesday, August 5 at Old Trafford in Greater Manchester.
Pakistan haven’t lost a Test series to England for a decade and the reigning world champions will be aiming to end their dismal run against the subcontinental side in red-ball cricket.
England have named an unchanged 14-man squad for the first Test against Pakistan, while the visitors are yet to name their 14 but have announced the 20-man squad that is in contention to head to England.
With the series just around the corner, we take a look at what to expect from both teams in the three-match Test Series:
The hosts succumbed to a surprise defeat in the first Test against the West Indies but produced two sensational performances in the subsequent two matches to win the series.
Ben Stokes’ incredible all-round performance in the second Test and Stuart Broad’s 10-wicket haul in the third saw England cruise to victory in both matches. While England’s middle order and bowling unit were reliable, their top order was highly inconsistent.
Openers Dominic Sibley and Rory Burns managed just one fifty and a hundred run stand in five outings together at the top of the batting order. Sibley either went big or went bust during the series, as he was dismissed on a duck twice but also scored a fifty and a century.
The return of skipper Joe Root after missing the first Test due to the birth of his second child was certainly a huge boost to England, but their openers still remain suspect and could be something that the Pakistani pacers will be raring to have a go at.
The first Test between England and Pakistan will be the visitors’ first match since their innings victory over Bangladesh at home in early February.
Ring rust will certainly be a factor for the Pakistanis after their six-month layoff. However, their pace attack is certainly capable of causing havoc in the bowling-friendly conditions in England.
All eyes will be on their 17-year-old bowling sensation Naseem Shah who’s been terrific so far in his nascent Test career. The left-arm seamer has picked 13 scalps in just four matches and is one of the foremost talents in world cricket.
Pakistan have been good in the subcontinent but woeful away from home. They lost all five matches against South Africa and Australia and also lost 2-1 against New Zealand in their Test series in the UAE.
Their inconsistent batting line-up has proven to be their bane away from home and will likely be the case in this series as well.
England certainly have the upper hand before this series commences, with three Tests already under their belt following the lockdown.
In James Anderson - who is 11 wickets away from becoming the first seamer to pick up 600 Test wickets - along with Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes, the hosts have enough in their bowling department to dismantle the Pakistani batting lineup.
Expect England to end their decade-long series win drought against Pakistan with an easy 3-0 victory.
Images courtesy: AFP / Martin Rickett / Michael Steele / Aamir Qureshi