Pakistan are probably the only team that has challenged England in Test match cricket in their own backyard in recent years. They have drawn the last two Test series they have played in England which is no mean feat for a team coming from the subcontinent.
One of the main reasons behind Pakistan’s recent success in Test cricket in England is their fast bowling pedigree. While the current squad that they have got is a bit short on experience, the quality is still world class.
However, Test match cricket is not just about quality, it’s about perseverance as well. There is no doubt about the fact that the Pakistani fast bowlers would create an impact in the series at some point, but would they be consistent enough to sustain constant pressure on England? Only time will tell.
England’s batting is a bit vulnerable. They finally seem to have found a solid opening pair, but captain Joe Root looked very scratchy in the two Test matches he played against West Indies.
Jos Buttler’s form with the bat is still a matter of concern, while Ollie Pope has also blown a bit hot and cold in his Test career so far. The young man has played a couple of spectacular innings, but has also fallen to some very soft dismissals.
Date – 5th to 9th August, 2020
Venue – Old Trafford, Manchester
Time – 03:30 PM IST
There is 50% chance of rain on the first day of the Test match, but the forecast gets better as the game progresses. It will be fairly sunny from the second day onwards with the maximum temperature reaching up to 28 degree Celsius. The humidity will, however, remain quite high right through the Test match.
The Old Trafford pitch always has something in it for the fast bowlers. It has not been a very quick pitch in the recent times, but the lateral movement has been there and the spinners have also got a bit of purchase out of it, not just towards the end of the Test match, but also on day one because of the dampness in the wicket.
It's always a tricky decision to make if you win the toss at Old Trafford. Teams don’t want to be batting on a deteriorated pitch in the fourth innings, but they might also have the opportunity to run through the opposition on day one if they bowl first.
Decision at the toss is likely to be determined by the overhead conditions on the first morning.
England might drop Dominic Bess to play an extra batsman as the Pakistanis are comparatively better players of spin than West Indies against whom Bess played all three games.
Zak Crawley might come in and bat at no. 3, while Root and Stokes will go further down the order at no. 4 and no. 5 respectively.
Ben Stokes’ fitness is another reason why England would have to go with a 4-man pace attack as the all-rounder might not be able to bowl too much because of the hamstring injury he sustained in the West Indies series.
Probable XI: Dominic Sibley, Rory Burns, Zak Crawley, Joe Root (C), Ben Stokes, Ollie Pope, Jos Buttler (WK), Chris Woakes, Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad, James Anderson
The last time Pakistan played a Test series in England, Yasir Shah had made a huge impact with his leg-spin bowling. Although he has lost a bit of touch in the last 12 months or so, he might still prove to be Pakistan’s trump card.
Naseem Shah didn’t have a great time on his Test debut in Australia, but his five-wicket haul in the one-off Test match against Sri Lanka at home ensured his selection for the England tour. He will be a part of the Pakistan pace trio along with Mohammad Abbas and Shaheen Afridi.
Probable XI: Shan Masood, Abid Ali, Azhar Ali (C), Babar Azam, Fawad Alam, Asad Shafiq, Mohammad Rizwan (WK), Yasir Shah, Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah, Mohammad Abbas
The Pakistani team has been in England for the last one and a half months and they must have got acclimatized to the conditions pretty well, but they haven’t had too much of match practice.
England, on the other hand, has already played a Test series earlier in the summer and are in a much better position coming into this Test match. The prediction is for England to win the Test match and take a 1-0 lead in the series.
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