After a successful 2-1 series against the West Indies, the focus now shifts to the Pakistan Test series for hosts England. The first Test begins on Wednesday at Old Trafford, in secure bio-bubble, with facilities that were present during the Windies series too.
To start with, Pakistani team would consider themselves to be in an advantageous position rightaway -- since they have been in England for close to a month and have been getting used to the conditions by playing practice matches. Also England players would be a bit worn-out as it has been only a few days since the series against West Indies culminated.
Having said that, it is going to be Pakistan's first series after the coronavirus break, and the players could be rusty, which the English team would like to exploit.
In the coming series, some valuable World Test Championship points are going to be at stake. England having moved to third spot already, would have a chance to go one better, while Pakistan can overtake New Zealand to fourth position.
For this series, England have named the same squad that clinched them the Wisden Trophy and it will once be interesting to see what will be their bowling combination for the first Test. On the other hand Pakistan have gone with a 20+ squad for the series.
England Team news:
Jonathan Trott has bee appointed batting coach for England for the upcoming series. Trott, who played 52 Tests, retired from playing all forms of cricket in 2018.
Predicted XI England: Joe Root (C), Jofra Archer, Dominic Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Ollie Pope, Dom Sibley, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Sam Curran
Pakistan Team news:
Former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi announced that his foundation's logo will feature on the Pakistan cricket team's playing kits during the series against England. Earlier Pakistani team had struggled to get sponsors for their kit.
Predicted XI Pakistan: Azhar Ali (c), Babar Azam, Asad Shafiq, Fawad Alam, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Naseem Shah, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Yasir Shah
Stuart Broad: Veteran England pacer Stuart Broad has said he did think about calling it a day after being axed for last month's opening Test against West Indies."Were there thoughts of retirement going round my head? 100%. Because I was so down," Broad said. "I was expecting to play, which is always a bit of a dangerous thing in sport but I felt I deserved to play. When Stokesy [Ben Stokes] told me I wasn't playing, I felt my body go into shakes. I could barely speak."
Misbah-ul-Haq: Pakistan will have to hit the ground running if they are to have any chance against England in their three-test series which starts on Wednesday, coach Misbah-ul-Haq said. “We have to really come in this test series right from the word go at our best if we want to win a test series or a test match,” Misbah said. "We’re aware that England have a slight advantage, but if we’re alert and go 100% in the first test, that’s the only way we can beat England … otherwise we will find ourselves in difficulty.”
England Squad: Joe Root (C), James Anderson, Jofra Archer, Dominic Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Zak Crawley, Sam Curran, Ollie Pope, Dom Sibley, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood, James Bracey, Ben Foakes, Jack Leach, Dan Lawrence
Pakistan Squad: Azhar Ali (c), Babar Azam, Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq, Fawad Alam, Imamul Haq, Kashif Bhatti, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Naseem Shah, Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Sohail Khan, Yasir Shah