After beating Ireland last week, Pakistan must be brimming with confidence as they get ready to face England in a two-Test series, starting from Thursday. It is Pakistan’s second tour of England in two years.
In the last tour, under the leadership of Misbah-ul-Haq, Pakistan levelled the four-match series 2-2 and achieved the top position in the ICC Test team ranking for the first time. They took the top position from India, following India’s washed out Test against the West Indies in Trinidad.
In the first Test against Ireland, Pakistan’s top order was exposed once again. Chasing a modest total of 160, the Green-shirts slipped to 15-3, but debutant Imam-ul-Haq and Babar Azam enabled them to achieve the target. It was again bowlers, especially Mohammad Abbas, who created the opportunity for Pakistan to win the Test.
Pakistan batsmen need to show more dedication and apply themselves against England who have a much more experienced team. A solid foundation will be needed from Azhar Ali, Imam-ul-Haq and Haris Sohail. Openers just need to be patient and try to stay at the crease for as long as possible.
The series against England will be a real test for young Pakistani batsmen and bowlers. On their soil England always create problems for the visitors, especially batsmen.
England have a strong batting line-up with Alastair Cook, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes and Johnny Bairstow. They are all good on their soil.
The last time Pakistan won a Test series in England was way back in 1996 when under the leadership of Wasim Akram the visitors beat Mike Atherton & Company 2-0.
Man-of-the-Series leg-spinner Mushtaq Ahmed and fast bowler Waqar Younis were the heroes of the series with 17 and 16 wickets, respectively.
In the fast bowling department, England have an edge thanks to the presence of experienced James Anderson and Stuart Broad. Both these fast bowlers use English conditions very well.
To beat England on their ground, Pakistan need to play fearless cricket. Aggression will be the key and that is what Coach Mickey Arthur wants from the Pakistani players.
Arthur wants to encourage players to be brave in the ground and keep the opposition under pressure as aggression is the best defence.
“The challenge is to play well outside the UAE. . . . the concern in the long format is batting outside our conditions as well as fitness and fielding, which will be a priority. We need to look at players who can serve for long, and we should allow them to make mistakes. It will help them improve and play what I call brave cricket. We have to strive to score runs, get people run out and get wickets. We have to play an exciting brand of cricket that stimulates both players and fans,” Arthur says.
People are mainly pinning their hopes on fast bowler Mohammad Amir and spinner Shadab Khan. Abbas also can play an important role as he has good pace with swing and could be more effective than Amir in favourable conditions.
The role of Shadab is very important in the absence of Yasir Shah as England’s players don’t have much experience of playing quality spinners.
The entire team will have to deliver if Pakistan are to beat England.
So far, 24 Test series have been played between the two countries. England have won nine of them. Pakistan have been successful on eight occasions.
Out of the 81 Test matches played, England won 24 and Pakistan emerged victorious in 20.
Pakistan’s 708 at The Oval in 1987 is the highest innings total in their bilateral Test cricket. England’s 636-8 in Lahore in 2005 is their best score against Pakistan.
Pakistan’s 72 at Birmingham in 2010 is their lowest total, while England’s 72 in 2012 at Abu Dhabi is their lowest.
Former captain Inzamam-ul-Haq is the most successful batsman against England with 1,584 runs in 19 Tests at an average of 54.62, including five hundreds and 10 half-centuries.
Former English captain David Gower is the highest scorer for England against Pakistan with 1,185 runs, scored at an average of 49.37 with the help of two centuries and nine fifties.
Current captain Alastair Cook is ready to surpass Gower as he is just six runs behind him, with 1,179 runs in 14 Tests.
Former leg-spinner Abdul Qadir is the most successful bowler with 82 wickets in 16 matches, at an average of 24.98.
Fast bowler James Anderson has taken 54 wickets in 13 Tests against Pakistan at an average of just 18.50.