A mouth-watering assignment

November 27, 2022

With a solid batting line-up and home advantage, Pakistan are likely to do well against visiting England in the forthcoming Test series

A mouth-watering assignment

England are arriving in Pakistan today for three Tests. The first Test starts in Rawalpindi from December 1. The next two Tests are to be played in Multan and Karachi.

England will play a Test match in Pakistan after 17 long years. They last toured in 2005. Pakistan hosted England twice during this period in the UAE. England toured Pakistan before the 2022 ICC Men's T20 World Cup for a seven-match T20I. It was won by the visitors.

The Test series is also part of the World Test Championship and will be crucial for Pakistan to keep their hopes of making the World Test Championship final alive. Babar Azam & company are currently placed on the fifth position with a point percentage of 51.85.

Each of the nine Test teams plays six series - three at home and three away - in the 2021-23 cycle. The upcoming series against England is Pakistan's fifth. Their last series will be the two Tests against New Zealand in December 2022 and January 2023.

The Green-shirts are confident of winning the Test series. The entire team will have to deliver if Pakistan are to beat England.

The Pakistan coaches should encourage players to be brave in the ground and keep the opposition under pressure as aggression is the best defence.

Pakistan will miss the services of Shaheen Shah Afridi who is out of action due to a knee injury that tweaked while taking a catch during the T20 WC final against England at the MCG. Besides, he has undergone an appendicitis surgery and will require three to four weeks to recover.

The absence of Shaheen Afridi has dealt a huge blow to the Pakistani bowling which relies heavily on the fast bowler. Shaheen, Pakistan's main strike bowler in all formats of the game has 99 Test, 62 ODI, and 58 T20 international wickets from a career that started in 2018.

The selection committee has made four changes from the last Test series against Sri Lanka. Apart from Shaheen, fast bowler Hasan Ali, middle-order batsman Fawad Alam and experienced leg-spinner Yasir Shah have been dropped.

Fawad scored only 33 runs in three Tests against Australia earlier this year, and managed 25 runs in his only Test in Sri Lanka.

Hasan was dropped for taking just five wickets in his last four Tests -- against Australia and Sri Lanka. He has taken 12 wickets in eight matches in the on-going Quaid-e-Azam Trophy at a high average of over 45.

Yasir bagged nine wickets in Sri Lanka but has managed only 14 wickets in seven Quaid-e-Azam Trophy matches to date.

Fast bowler Mohammad Ali, 30, is one of the new faces in the squad. He was first selected for Zarai Taraqiati Bank Ltd (ZTBL) in 2018 at the age of 26. He has played 22 first-class games and taken 85 wickets, averaging 23.37, since his first-class debut. But his most wickets came in the last two seasons - 32 in 2021-22 and 24 so far in 2022-23.

Young spinner Abrar Ahmed, 24, is in outstanding form in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy. Before the start of the last round (November 20), he had claimed 43 wickets at an average of 21.95. He has taken five five-wicket hauls in six matches.

Now, people are mainly looking towards fast bowler Test debutant Haris Rauf, Naseem Shah and spinner Nauman Ali and debutant leg-spinner Abrar Ahmed.

The role of Nauman and Abrar is very important in the absence of experienced Yasir as England's players don't have much experience of playing quality spinners.

In general, Pakistan bowling attack looks comparatively inexperienced, but they are talented and have experience of home conditions. They should give tough time to experienced English batsmen.

Pakistan's batting looks reasonably good in home conditions. Skipper Babar Azam, Shan Masood, Imam-ul-Haq, Azhar Ali, and Abdullah Shafique have the ability to face any bowling attack.

So far, 86 Test matches have been played between the two teams. England have the upper hand with 26 wins. Pakistan remained successful on 21 occasions.

Andrew Strauss led England in 11 Tests against Pakistan, won six and lost four. Misbah-ul-Haq has a more successful record against the visiting team with seven wins in 10 matches as captain. He lost only two Tests with a winning percentage of 70.

Pakistan's 708 runs at The Oval in August 1987 is the highest innings total so far. Interestingly, Pakistan five times scored over 600 runs in a Test innings but England never reached the milestone.

Both Pakistan and England's lowest Test innings total is 72 against each other. Pakistan were bowled out on 72 in Birmingham in August 2010. England were also bowled on 72 in Abu Dhabi in January 2012.

Pakistan's 708 at The Oval in 1987 is the highest innings total in their bilateral Test cricket. England's 636-8 in Lahore in 2005 is their best score against Pakistan.

England's former skipper Alastair Cook is the most successful batsmen with 1719 runs in 20 Tests, averaging 49.11, including five centuries and eight fifties.

For Pakistan, former captain Inzamam-ul-Haq scored 1584 runs in 19 matches with the average of 54.62 with the help of five hundreds and 10 half-centuries.

Denis Comption's 278 in Nottingham in 1954 Test series is still the best Test innings score in bilateral Test cricket.

Former captain Zaheer Abbas is behind him with 274 runs that he scored in Birmingham during the 1971 series.

On the bowling side, former leg-spinner Abdul Qadir is the most successful bowler with 82 wickets in 16 matches, at an average of 24.98.

For the tourists, fast bowler James Anderson has taken 74 wickets in 18 Tests against Pakistan at an average of just 19.31.

In the last Test series on English soil in 2020, England claimed their first Test series win (1-0) over Pakistan in a decade. Before that England had last defeated Pakistan in a Test series in 2010.


A mouth-watering assignment