England came from behind to win the Test series against West Indies and now go into the series against Pakistan with added confidence.
England v Pakistan, 1st Test
Emirates Old Trafford, Manchester
Wednesday, 5 August; 11:00am local, 10:00am GMT
After two convincing wins over West Indies in the last fortnight, England will hope to hit the ground running as they meet Pakistan, a side against whom they haven't won a Test series at home since 2011.
The 2-1 win over West Indies took England to third in the ICC World Test Championship points table after they gained 80 points. Two more wins in this series will take them above Australia who are placed at No.2.
Pakistan, on the other hand, are in fifth position and even a single win would put them level on points with New Zealand. The visiting side have been in England for a while and have played two intra-squad warm-up matches.
But Misbah-ul-Haq, the head coach, has made it clear that performances in the warm-up game will not influence the starting XI too much. It will be interesting to see whether Sohail Khan, who picked up two five-wicket hauls in the two games and has a history of performing well in England with five-wicket hauls at Birmingham and The Oval in 2016, makes the cut in the starting XI.
The selectors might consider Sohail ahead of Mohammad Abbas, who averages 66.2 in his last two away Test series in South Africa and Australia, for a place in the starting XI. However, Abbas himself performed reasonably well in the warm-ups and picked up 10 wickets in two Tests on Pakistan's previous tour of England in 2018.
The spin squad with the spin wizard Mushtaq Ahmed! pic.twitter.com/vMVXW8vKeR— Pakistan Cricket (@TheRealPCB) August 3, 2020
With the Manchester surface expected to take turn, Misbah has hinted at playing two spinners. Pakistan might look to play three seamers, and Yasir Shah with Shadab Khan, a spin-bowling all-rounder.
England, particularly their pace attack, are brimming with confidence after the recent series win. The composition of the pace attack could once again be under scrutiny. They are likely to retain the same team from the last Test against West Indies and possibly rotate the seamers over the course of the series.
If Ben Stokes is fit to bowl, they might ponder leaving a fast bowler out to play an additional batsman in Zak Crawley.
One formidable fast bowlers club! 👏 pic.twitter.com/sUkYMoXBRr— Pakistan Cricket (@TheRealPCB) August 2, 2020
Remember the last time
The last two Test series in England between these sides were drawn after Pakistan won Tests at Lord's (2016 and 2018) and The Oval (2016). England have a tendency to lose the first game of a series in recent years.
In eight of their last ten Test series, England have lost the first Test match, including the losses against Pakistan at Lord's in 2016 and 2018. Against West Indies, in the recently concluded series too, England lost the first Test at Southampton.
Chris Woakes' Test stats in England after 21 matches:— ICC (@ICC) August 3, 2020
☝️ Wickets: 81 | Avg: 22.53
🏏 Runs: 741 | Avg: 32.21
The bowling all-rounder is determined to further improve those remarkable numbers 🔥 pic.twitter.com/N540T4nWKP
What they said
Chris Woakes, England all-rounder: "I hope I've done enough to be in that starting XI, but competition is high at the minute. We've got still two of England's greats charging in and taking wickets every time they play and we've got exciting fast bowlers as well."
Misbah-ul-Haq, Pakistan head coach: "For spinners there was absolutely nothing in 2016, but now when we see matches they are totally different and it looks like it's in our favour and we are going to play our chances"
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