Test cricket is set to resume in England as the hosts prepare to take on Pakistan in a three-match series starting August 5.
Here is your preview for the first Test between the sides, that will commence at the Old Trafford Cricket Ground in Manchester at 3:30 pm IST on Wednesday:
Joe Root (Captain), James Anderson, Jofra Archer, Dominic Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Zak Crawley, Sam Curran, Ollie Pope, Dom Sibley, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.
Azhar Ali (captain), Babar Azam, Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq, Faheem Ashraf, Fawad Alam, Imam-ul-Haq, Imran Khan Sr, Kashif Bhatti, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Naseem Shah, Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), Shadab Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Shan Masood, Sohail Khan, Usman Shinwari, Wahab Riaz, Yasir Shah
The hosts will likely pick the same XI that beat West Indies in the third Test of their three-match series.
England will head into the contest with four seamers and Dominic Bess will be the spin-bowling option for the home side. James Anderson needs just 11 wickets to become the first seamer to take 600 wickets in Tests and will hoping to pick a few in this contest.
Stuart Broad will be mighty confident after picking up 10 wickets in the third Test against the Windies and will be raring to go against Pakistan.
Probable Playing XI: Rory Burns, Dom Sibley, Joe Root(captain), Ben Stokes, Ollie Pope, Jos Buttler (wk), Chris Woakes, Dominic Bess, Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad, James Anderson.
Shan Masood and Abid Ali are likely to open the batting for the visitors.
Azhar Ali and Babar Azam, two of Pakistan’s finest, will be the next to come in with Asad Shafiq, Haris Sohail and Mohammad Rizwan forming a strong batting order.
Pakistan’s three-pronged pace attack of Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Abbas and Naseem Shah along with standout spinner Yasir Shah present Pakistan’s best chance of upsetting the hosts and the quartet do possess the ability to wreak havoc against any batting lineup.
Probable Playing XI: Shan Masood, Abid Ali, Azhar Ali (captain), Babar Azam, Asad Shafiq, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Yasir Shah, Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Abbas, Naseem Shah.
The forecast suggests overcast conditions during the first two days of the first Test. However, no rain is predicted through the duration of the contest.
Pakistan have the pace attack to take the game to England. However, their batting is prone to collapse while England bat quite deep as Stuart Broad displayed with his quickfire half-century in the first innings of the third Test.
The batting is likely to be the difference between the two sides in the first Test and hence it will be England who emerge victorious in Manchester.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Martin Rickett