International cricket is being played only in England at the moment due to the ongoing pandemic around the globe. The three-Test series between hosts England and visiting West Indies ended in favour of the home side and an ODI series between the hosts and Ireland is underway currently. Next up on the schedule is a three-Test series between England and Pakistan that starts at Old Trafford on 5th August.
Even though England won the previous series 2-1, their batting line-up looked very brittle and was exposed on quite a few occasions by the West Indies fast bowlers. With a better bowling attack, Pakistan might be an even more of a threat and that could be a crucial factor in the outcome of the series.
Pakistan can feel upbeat
They do also have the experienced Wahab Riaz among the ranks and if you throw in the leg spinner Yasir Shah into the mix, this looks a very promising bowling attack that can trouble the fragile English batting line-up.
While the West Indies fast bowlers were very good in the early part of the series, their lack of bench strength might have played a role in them looking a bit toothless later. That is where Pakistan can be slightly better off as they have a good pool of fast bowlers to pick from, very much like England who used 7 fast bowlers in the three Tests against West Indies.
Pakistan’s batting will be key
If Pakistan’s batsmen put runs on the board, then their bowlers can put pressure on England. The batting will revolve around the world class Babar Azam, the experienced Azhar Ali and a tenacious middle-order batsman in Asad Shafiq.
Often considered as an equivalent to India’s captain Virat Kohli, Pakistan’s Babar Azam showed good temperament in their last series down under. If the stylish right-hander can replicate that kind of form in this series, Pakistan are in with more than a good chance of winning. It will also help Babar Azam in his effort to be considered among modern greats along with Steven Smith, Kane Williamson et al.
England are on a high
On the other hand, England have a lot of momentum going into this Test series. After losing the first Test against West Indies, they came back pretty strongly in the final two Tests to win it 2-1. England have a very good track record at Old Trafford as they have lost only one Test in the last 18 years and that includes the back-to-back wins over West Indies recently.
England captain Joe Root had to miss the first Test due to personal reasons but had a relatively quiet time in the remaining two Tests. So the home side will hope that big runs are around the corner for the right-hander.
The home side will hope that their premier all-rounder Ben Stokes, who was good with both bat and ball against West Indies continue in the same vein against Pakistan.
Will England play an all pace attack?
It will also be interesting to see if England decide to play all the four quicks along with the option of Ben Stokes. Off-spinner Dominic Bess played in all the three Tests against West Indies but had a very little role to play and as a matter of fact didn’t bowl a single delivery in the third and final Test.
England can opt for all pace bowling attack against Pakistan, who are known to play spin much better than pace. Even if some spin is needed, Joe Root can offer some part time off-breaks.