England vs Pakistan, 1st Test, Preview – Tough English challenge awaits Azhar Ali’s men

England vs Pakistan, 1st Test, Preview – Tough English challenge awaits Azhar Ali’s men

Pakistan have beaten England only once at Manchester in 2001 out of six Tests.

Pakistan team
Pakistan team. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Pakistan’s campaign in the World Test Championship didn’t start handsomely as they lost to Australia. However, victories against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh got them back on track. However, England won’t be an easy proposition for them by any means. The Brits, captained by Joe Root, are coming of two thumping triumphs over the West Indies and must be brimming with confidence.

However, England can’t afford to undermine the Asian giants since Pakistan have beaten them three times the last six times they met. The opening Test is set to get underway on Wednesday, August 5 at the Old Trafford in Manchester. At the very venue, Pakistan have turned over England only once back in 2001. The last times when these two teams met in Manchester, the Brits won by 330 runs in 2016.

The Pakistan cricketers already reached England last month, and served the quarantine period. Having also played a couple of intra-squad games, the visitors must be up and running. In the last few years, Pakistan haven’t had the best of runs in Test cricket due to which they are lagging at seven in the rankings. But keeping in mind their skills, it’s a matter of time before they strike form.

Playing Combinations

England

England, earlier, named an unchanged squad from the third Test versus the West Indies. They might well field the same eleven from the last encounter. The focus will again be on Ben Stokes and Stuart Broad. Both players were on top of their game in the last series and did well with both bat and ball.

Even as Stokes got 363 runs at 90.75, Broad notched 16 wickets along with a quick-fire 62 in the final Test. Rory Burns and Dominic Sibley also impressed at the top of the order. James Anderson was frugal at an economy rate of 2.34, but he needs to get amongst the wickets more frequently.

Predicted XI–  Rory Burns, Dominic Sibley, Joe Root (C), Ben Stokes, Ollie Pope, Jos Buttler (wk), Chris Woakes, Dominic Bess, Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad, James Anderson

Pakistan

Pakistan have already named their 16-man squad for the game. Abid Ali had a dream run in the home Tests earlier this year, and he will be looking to carry on with his form. Test skipper Azhar Ali has a fair amount of knowledge about English conditions, having already played County cricket.

The onus will also be on Babar Azam, who has an average in excess of 100 in the WTC. Asad Shafiq’s role will be critical as well. Sarfaraz has been included in the squad, but Rizwan might get a chance ahead of him. The fast bowlers also need to take responsibility and make regular breakthroughs.

Predicted XI- Abid Ali, Shan Masood, Azhar Ali (C), Babar Azam, Asad Shafiq, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Yasir Shah, Mohammad Abbas, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Naseem Shah, Sohail Khan/Shadab Khan

Head to Head

Played- 83, England won- 25, Pakistan won- 21, No-Result- 37

In England

Played- 53, England won- 23, Pakistan won- 12, No-Result- 18

Stat Attack

138- Runs Babar Azam needs to complete 4,000 first-class runs.

183– Runs Joe Root needs to complete 12,000 first-class runs.

Broadcast Details

Match timings – 11:00 local time, 15:30 PM IST

TV – Sony Six, Sony Six HD, Sony Ten Sports 1, and Sony Ten Sports 1 HD

Live Streaming– The match can be streamed online at Sony LIV.