The countdown has begun. The Pakistani team has started its campaign in England with side matches but will they be able to do well in the Test series?
Every time the Green-shirts visit England, they hope to emulate the exploits of Imran Khan, Javed Miandad and Wasim Akram but in the last two tours, they haven’t managed to do well, most notably due to faulty captaincy and coaching.
This time, they have arrived in England with high hopes, and one feels that they will deliver their best performance against the in-form hosts. Let’s analyse the two sides and the players on whom their performance will depend.
Mohammad Amir: The best pacer Pakistan has produced since Shoaib Akhtar (and who is still playing) is back in the side after serving five years away from the game. Although he hasn’t been able to regain his past rhythm since his return, Pakistan will bank on Amir’s performance since they don’t have any other bowler to surprise the locals. His many detractors may claim that the tour will decide the tainted cricketer’s future, but it is the other way round — if Amir clicks, Pakistan clicks.
Younis Khan: In his five Test matches in England, the last of which came 10 years back, Younis Khan has scored 470 runs at 52 with the help of three fifties and one century. His absence was one of the reasons why Pakistan failed miserably on the last tour. One wonders how things would have turned out had the leading run scorer of Tests been in the 2010 team. Thankfully, he is still as fit as any player in either side and would be looking to add to his impressive tally of 31 Test centuries, 30 Test fifties and 9116 Test runs.
Sarfraz Ahmed: He has scored runs in front of the wickets and taken catches behind it, proving his worth as one of the best wicket keepers produced in Pakistan. With a different coach and his favourite captain returning, Sarfraz might outperform many in the side. Waqar Younis couldn’t use him properly, Shahid Afridi saw him as a threat (to his right to be the captain) but if any player can win a match for Pakistan in England this time, it’s this bloke from Karachi.
Yasir Shah: In his 12 Tests so far, Yasir Shah has taken as many as 76 wickets, including those who he might face in England next week. Yes, he was out of the team for a while serving a ban, yes he has never played a Test match in England but with him in the side, people are having high hopes.
England in Full Form!
On the other hand, England have had a brilliant series against Sri Lanka. Their bowlers, batsmen and fielders showed the opponents that they are ready for any team. Johhny Bairstow managed to top the batting chart with 387 runs at 129 including 2 scores of 100 or more; Captain Alastair Cook ended the series with 212 runs and became the first Englishman to cross the 10,000 runs barrier in Tests; Alex Hales was unstoppable during the series with 292 runs at an average of 58.40 with as many as three 50s.
On the bowling front, it was James Anderson all the way who ended with 21 wickets that included a 10-wicket haul in a match. He took 5 or more wickets thrice. He must be waiting for the Pakistanis, the team against which he peaked during the 2003 World Cup and the players of which he dismissed when he took his ODI hat-trick.