The wait is finally over. It has been a couple of weeks since the Pakistani team landed in England. They have dominated Somerset and Sussex in the 2 warm up matches and look to be in decent form. Now, it is time for England vs Pakistan 1st Test match.
All eyes will be on Mohammad Amir as he makes his long awaited test match comeback. Incidentally, his last test, played almost 6 years ago, was also at Lords. That match is infamously remembered for reigniting one of the worst diseases to have plagued cricket.
Those 3 no balls by Amir and Mohammad Asif, bowled intentionally with the backing of then captain, Salman Butt, shifted the dynamics of international cricket. Although, not as big a scandal as the one in 2000, nevertheless, it showed us that corruption is still prevalent in the game.
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Amir was in good form against Somerset picking up 4 wickets. More importantly, he showed that he has lost none of his skills and is all set to resume his journey to the top. Also, Amir has a brilliant record in England, having picked up 30 wickets in 6 test matches, 4 against England and 2 against Australia.
Statistics of last 10 relevant matches:
|Pakistan against Top seven test playing nations (Outside UAE)||3||5||2|
|England against Top seven test playing nations (at Home)||6||3||1|
While the results for Pakistan don’t look very bad, it has to be noted that out of these ten matches, seven of them were against a Sri Lankan side in transition phase. Ignore them, and the stats become three losses in three (all against South Africa) which paints a not so rosy picture.
One positive factor for them is the fact that they have done well in their warm up matches. Although, they were unable to pick up a victory, that is expectedly difficult in a 3 day match.
England will be looking forward to a challenge after having steam rollered a Sri Lankan team in transition. While their recent good form will create a feel good factor, they will have their task cut out against Misbah and co.
Expected line ups
Jake Ball, a right arm medium fast from Nottinghamshire, is all set to make is debut. He will replace James Anderson, who has been ruled out due to fitness issues. Nick Compton, who had a poor series against Lanka, has been replaced by the returning Gary Ballance. The inform Joe Root is likely to move up to number 3, while Balance fills in the middle order. England have depth in their batting in the form of Moeen Ali, Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes.
England (expected): Alastair Cook (captain), Alex Hales, Joe Root, James Vince, Gary Ballance, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad, Jake Ball, Steven Finn
Pakistan are expected to field a similar line up to the one which recently beat England in the UAE. The bowling, bolstered by the return of Amir, has a formidable look with the presence of Wahab Riaz and Yasir Shah. Their batting, meanwhile, will rely on the experience of captain Misbah and seniors Younis Khan and Mohammad Hafeez. Rahat Ali and Imran Khan are in contention for the third seamers role.
Pakistan (expected): Mohammad Hafeez, Shan Masood, Azhar Ali, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq (captain), Asad Shafiq, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir, Rahat Ali / Imran Khan, Yasir Shah
Ever since that fateful tour of England in 2010, Pakistan have beaten England in 2 series in the UAE winning 5 out of 6 test matches. Their neighbours, India, on the other hand have lost 3 series to England (2 away, 1 at home) in the same period. It remains to be seen whether Amir and Pakistan can get redemption.