England take on visitors Pakistan in what is anticipated to be an exciting series. The hosts won their last series 2-1 against West Indies after bouncing back from an opening match loss. The hosts showed sheer dominance in the last two matches with the bat and ball, thanks to the heroic performance from English Superstar all-rounder Ben Stokes. The Pakistan team though will start out as the underdogs here, but it is quite evident that they can put forward a stiff competition especially with their bowling line-up.
The English team had a nerve wrack when Ben Stokes had an injury scare in the second test against West Indies but was later deemed to be fit to play and is now fit to represent England again. The Pakistan Team will look to kick start things on a winning note, it could be well possible if their batting compliments the bowling. The head coach Misbah-Ul-Haq in a recent interview shared his plan to go ahead with two spinners in the team, which he said to be really helpful once the pitch starts to deteriorate.
The last time these two sides met in a Test series the series ended 1-1. The first match was won by Pakistan by 9 wickets. Whereas, the hosts made a stunning comeback in the second test to win it by an innings and 55 runs.
Pitch and Conditions
The Manchester pitch as we saw in the series against West Indies, helped the pacers in the initial stages and also aided the batsman for shot making. As the pitch went into day 4 and 5 it was seen to be forming cracks and deteriorating and changed into a paradise island for the bowlers. The same is likely expected again. The two captains would be eager to win the toss and bat first as the opposition team will have a difficult time batting in the fourth innings.
Probable Playing Xl
England will be playing the same team that played the West Indies as they would not be wanting to make changes to their winning combination.
England: Rory Burns, Dominic Sibley, Joe Root(C), Ollie Pope, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler(WK), Chris Woakes, Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Dominic Bess.
Sarfraz Ahmed who did not represent Pakistan in the one-off test match against Bangladesh makes his return to the team. With Misbah-Ul-Haq stating the team would go ahead with two spinners it would mean along with Yasir Shah, Shadab Khan too will be included in the playing Xl.
Pakistan: Abid Ali, Shan Masood, Azhar Ali(C), Babar Azam, Asad Shafiq, Sarfraz Ahmed, Shadab Khan, Yasir Shah, Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah, Mohammad Abbas.
Players to watch out for
1) Ben Stokes
In the current form Ben Stokes is, he is the player any team would be thriving to have. Not only his stunning batsman has got the eyes of all but also his equally amazing bowling has now made him the best Test all-rounder in the World. He is the player to watch out for again as if he decides to start getting loose, he can take the match away from the opposition in no time.
In the last 7 matches the 29-year old has played he has scored 681 runs at an jaw-dropping average of 62 and strike-rate of 61.62. He also managed to pick up 19 wickets in his last 7 matches.
2) Babar Azam
The swag-buckling middle-order batsman is becoming the synonym for consistency. In the last 8 matches the 25-year old has played, he has managed to amass 836 runs at an mid-blowing average of 70 and more importantly is the strike-rate of 73 that he maintains. The strike-rate of 73 in tests shows the dominance he possesses on bowlers at any level. If he clicks again with the Manchester pitch, it would be a mountain of a task for the hosts.
3) Stuart Board
The 34-year old recently joined the 500 wicket club with his 4/36 against West Indies in the 2nd innings of the deciding test. He is the highest wicket-taker for England after James Anderson (589 wickets) and is the 7th highest wicket-taker in tests. In the last 6 matches he represented England, he has claimed an astonishing 30 wickets at an incredible strike-rate of 35. He has been spelling magic with the ball and picking up crucial wickets at will. If he is still in the form as he was against West Indies, then it would be no doubt that the visitors will have to face an enormous task.
Match: England vs Pakistan, 1st Test of 3-Match series
Venue: The Old Trafford, Manchester
Date and time: 5 August 2020, 15:30 IST
The visitors have a very good bowling line-up that can trouble the English Batsman and with Babar Azam in the form he is, Pakistan could post big scores. Though, considering the form Ben Stokes and Dom Sibley is in and Stuart Board in the form of his lifetime. England could end up on the winning side.
Cricwizz Prediction - England to win the 1st Test