The second Test series amid coronavirus pandemic is all ready to take place as England have gird up their loins to face Pakistan in the three-match series starting from August 05 at the Old Trafford in Manchester.
After the comprehensive series victory over West Indies in the last fortnight, England will hope to change history against Pakistan – a side against whom they haven’t won a Test series at home since 2011.
The 2-1 win over Caribbeans took England to third in the ICC World Test Championship (WTC) points table as they earned 80 points. If they end up winning two more matches in this series, then England will go above Australia, who are placed at No.2 in the WTC standings.
Pakistan, on the other hand, are sitting at the fifth spot and even a single victory would put them level on points with New Zealand.
One advantage which Pakistan will be looking to cash-in is that in recent years, England have lost quite a few series openers. In their last ten Test series, the hosts have lost the first Test match for eight times. The freshest memory of such is the Southampton Test against West Indies, in which the Jason Holder-led side defeated England by 4 wickets.
The wicket at Old Trafford always opens the doors for the fast bowlers. But, it has not been a very quick pitch in recent times and has given spinners a chance to shine, primarily because of the dampness in the wicket.
England vs Pakistan Probable XI:
England, especially their pace attack, is braced up to face any batting attack in the world at present, after the recent series win. So in all possibilities, they are likely to retain the same team from the last Test against West Indies.
However, if Ben Stokes is fit to bowl, they might consider leaving a fast bowler out to play an additional batsman in the form of Zak Crawley.
Probable XI: Dominic Sibley, Rory Burns, Zak Crawley, Joe Root (c), Ben Stokes, Ollie Pope, Jos Buttler (wk), Chris Woakes, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, James Anderson.
The Manchester surface is expected to take a turn, and Pakistan’s head coach Misbah-ul-Haq has given hints at making the best use of it so there won’t be a surprise if they end up playing two spinners. Yasir Shah, who left a significant impact with his leg-spin bowling, in the last tour will lead the spin attack with Shadab Khan as his assistant. In that case, Pakistan might look to play three seamers.
The recent show of Naseem Shah and Shaheen Afridi will get them in the playing XI. However, when it comes to the third seamer, then Mohammad Abbas and Sohail Khan, both are the contenders, especially after their performances in the warm-up games.
Probable XI: Shan Masood, Abid Ali, Azhar Ali (c), Babar Azam, Fawad Alam, Asad Shafiq, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Yasir Shah, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah, Mohammad Abbas/Sohail Khan.
Here are the fantasy XI suggestions:
Fantasy Suggestion #1:
Rory Burns, Babar Azam, Joe Root, Ollie Pope, Abid Ali, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Shadab Khan, Nadeem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Stuart Broad.
Captain: Stuart Broad, Vice-Captain: Babar Azam
Fantasy Suggestion #2:
Rory Burns, Azhar Ali, Babar Azam, Joe Root, Ollie Pope, Mohammad Rizwan, Chris Woakes, Yasir Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Stuart Broad, James Anderson.
Captain: James Anderson, Vice-Captain: Azhar Ali