England might be favorites to beat Pakistan in the Test series but they've been unable to defeat the subcontinent side in a Test series since 2010.
Since then, the sides have played four series. Pakistan won two Test series in the UAE and drew two in England.
In 2016 series in England , the series was drawn 2-2. Even in 2018 the series was drawn 1-1. Pakistan won the first test at Lord's and England crushed them by an innings at Headingley.
England has been losing the first test of series for quite some time and as they have played a tough series against resurgent West Indies , the same may not happen.
Old Trafford is a delight for bowlers who can move the bowl.
Readers will note that I had written that West Indies' pacers will become ineffective at Manchester, whereas i had predicted that Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes will wreak havoc and they did so.
For serious statistics lovers, I am sharing the reason for my prediction. Sir Alec Bedser, a medium-pacer is the highest wicket-taker (51) at Old Trafford. Maximum runs have been scored by grafters like Denis Compton and Mike Atherton.
So, the pitch will assist bowlers with movement. Roston Chase's recent success with the ball might prompt Pakistan to go with two spinners.
The hosts have gone with the same squad that defeated West Indies. Rory Burns and Dom Sibley will graft and score runs. Joe Root has best record at Old Trafford so he is expected to fire.
Broad, Woakes, Jofra Archer and James Anderson will always be a threat.
Azhar Ali and Shan Masood will open. Masood recently proved himself in Australia where he scored 29&97 and 68&127.
Babar Azam is Pakistan's best batsman and the nation beat Sri Lanka and Bangladesh thanks to his scores.
Asad Shafiq played innings of 76 and 57 against the Aussie trio of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood.
Mohammad Rizwan is a better batsman than keeper.
Bowling will be spear headed by Shaheen Afridi, and Mohammad Abbas. Both can move the ball.
Abbas was Man of the Match at Lord's last time out, scalping eight wickets. I, however, really do not fancy his bowling.
Pakistan's third pacer will be teenage sensation Naseem Shah. He can certainly rattle batsmen with his pace (145 to 150 km/hr). If Shannon Gabriel was an impact bowler than Shah can definitely trouble English batsmen.
Yasir Shah will be the main spinner. The last place can go to Shadab Khan who hit two half centuries in his last series of England. His lovely wrist spin adds to what he can bring on the field for Pakistan.
Records at stake
Anderson is at 589 wickets and he can take 11 wickets in this series to become the first pacer to take 600 Test wickets.
Azhar Ali has aggregated 5919 runs in 78 tests and he is bound to complete 6000 runs in this series. Pakistan's fourth highest run scorer in Tests definitely deserves more credit.
I am a big advocate of Batting first at Old Trafford. I had written that if West Indies bats second then they will lose. They chose bowling in view of overcast conditions and paid the price.
Pakistan lost to Australia 0-2 as David Warner and Marnus Labuschagne toyed with them. The Men in Green can take solace from the fact that their batting played better against Starc and Cummins then English batsmen in the Ashes.
If Pakistan bats first, they may win the the test. Vice versa for England.
The match will not of free flowing batting and I wish to see Ben Stokes handling quality spin, which he has not done in the past.