After a thrilling three-wicket win over Pakistan in the first Test at Manchester, England will look to seal the three-match series with another victory in the second Test at Southampton. Players from both teams produced some solid performances in the opening Test but in the end, England fought back to beat Pakistan and take a 1-0 lead in the series. As we head into the second Test on Thursday, we have a look at a few players who could play match-defining roles in the game.
Ollie Pope demonstrated all the class and poise that you would expect from a top-order English batsman in the first Test. After walking to the middle with his team in all sorts of problem in the first innings, Pope looked comfortable and dealt with the Pakistan attack with minimum of fuss up until his dismissal. His cool and controlled knock of 62 came at a strike rate of 52.99 and featured eight fours. Pope’s knock helped cut Pakistan’s lead in the first innings and even though he managed just seven in the second innings, the talented right-hand batsman could have a major say in the upcoming Test.
One of the most underappreciated players of his time, it’s not easy to keep Chris Woakes out of the game. The Englishman has constantly contributed with bat and ball in recent years and was at it again in the last Test. He took four wickets, but his biggest contribution was his unbeaten match-winning 84 in the second innings. Walking into the crease with the score at 117 for 5 and a target of 277 to chase, Woakes showed no sign of nerves. Instead, he stitched together a crucial partnership with Jos Butler to lead his team to victory. His effort earned him the Player of the Match award and he will be eager to continue his rich vein of form in the second Test.
Shan Masood top-scored with 156 in the first Test and will be disappointed that he still ended up on the losing side. The left-hand batsman was in fine form, hitting 18 fours and two sixes along the way. That said, with Test cricket being the great evener that it is, he could only manage a duck in the second innings. However, he will still be confident with runs in his kitty and will be itching to return to the crease and make amends as Pakistan look to claw their way back into the series.
Yasir Shah was Pakistan’s most successful bowler in the first Test with four wickets each in both innings. The leg-break spinner picked up crucial wickets at pivotal junctures and is likely to be Pakistan’s go-to bowler whenever there’s a partnership building. Yasir has fond memories of playing in England having taken a match-winning 10-wicket haul at Lord's in 2016 and he will be keen to be among the wickets in a winning cause again unlike the first Test of the ongoing series in Southampton.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Lee Smith