England vs Pakistan (Build Up)
Pakistan team has set foot in England after a period of six years, for a series consisting of four test matches, five one-day internationals and a one-off T20 international. For restoring the belief in humankind, everyone hopes that this series will have no(ball) more controversies and that spirit of the game is spot (fixing) on.
While the return of electric Mohammed Amir has boosted Pakistan’s line-up, their top order batting looks inexperienced. Add to this, the classical swing bowling of English bowlers and English swing conditions, it can be said that England holds all the aces currently. England recently decimated Sri Lankan batsmen who had shown poor temperament and lack of overseas experience. Can we expect a similar performance from England against Pakistan?
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 shows a pitiful picture. While Pakistan has played really well in their initial practice game against Somerset, it will be interesting to see whether they can continue to give such performances in the real thing against England. Even Sri Lanka, despite having a good warm up game against Leicestershire had a poor test match series against England last month is noteworthy.
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The form factor is definitely positive for the England cricket team. In the last series that England played at home against Sri Lanka, almost all the batsmen with the exception of Nick Compton were in good nick. The bowlers demolished the Sri Lankan batsmen beyond recognition and it took Sri Lanka four innings to cross a team score of 120. The core of English bowling remains in this Pakistan tour as well. Having sniffed the sub continental blood, English bowlers will be all over the batsmen to hunt them down again.
The first test probably offers Pakistan the best chance to win in this series. The main reason is the absence of “Jimmy” Anderson, as he hasn’t yet recovered from the right shoulder injury sustained in the third test match against Sri Lanka last month.
Pakistan: Misbah-ul-Haq (c), Asad Shafiq, Azhar Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imran Khan, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Rizwan, Rahat Ali, Sami Aslam, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Shan Masood, Sohail Khan, Wahab Riaz, Yasir Shah, Younis Khan, Zulfiqar Babar
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England (for first match): Alastair Cook (c), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Jake Ball, Gary Balance, Stuart Broad, Steven Finn, Alex Hales, Toby Roland-Jones, Joe Root, James Vince, Chris Woakes
Mohammad Amir (Pakistan): Having served his ban, he is expected to be back to his best in business in the traditional format of the game. Having played really well in the Asia Cup and T20 world cup, he has silenced most of the critics and will be eager to shut up the remaining.
Jonny Bairstow (England): Coming in at late middle order, he has performed consistently well in this season. He has a batting average of 104.33 in tests played in 2016, and has already bagged two ‘Man of the Match’ awards and a ‘Man of the Series’ award in 2016. Pakistan shouldn’t become over-confident on removing the top order and should have plans in store to get him out.
Though none of the matches are expected to be a washout, the occasional showers will dampen the stadia and cause lengthy suspensions across the United Kingdom.