After training hard and smartly for more than a month, Azhar Ali’s men are confident to come over England in three matches Test series, starting from August 5 at Old Trafford, Manchester.
Following a decent track record in England, Pakistan will have an opportunity to let their performances make noise as all eyes are on this series which will be the second international cricket contest after the game was stopped due to the COVID-19 pandemic almost four months ago.
Looking at the 16-men squad announced by the team management for the first Test, Pakistan’s bowling line seems a bit inexperienced but it depends on how they are being utilized according to the situation and their strength.
Skipper Azhar Ali also accepted that their bowling isn’t experienced enough but they will try to control their nerves and go out with a positive mindset.
“If you look at our bowling line, it seems a bit inexperienced but they all are passionate and committed to performing well against England,” said Azhar while speaking to reporters via teleconference.
Most probably, Pakistan will go into the first Test with three pacers and two spinners considering the situation in Manchester. However, some reports suggest that Azhar and the team should go with four pacers.
Shaheen Shah Afridi, Naseem Shah, and Mohammad Abbas will be the front-line weapons for Pakistan in this series as the trio performed up to the mark in the last two series against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh with taking 34 wickets altogether.
Shaheen bagged 13 wickets with a five-wicket haul, Naseem became the youngest bowler to claim Test fifer and took 12 wickets in last two series while Mohammad Abbas managed to secure 9 wickets in last two home series alongside his young partners.
Yasir Shah hasn’t been in form since the last couple of series but his presence in the playing XI can be crucial for Pakistan as he got the supporting hand of Mushtaq Ahmed, spin bowling coach of the national team.
“Yasir has been phenomenal for us in recent past and his presence is crucial for us in this series. He has worked in the nets with the coaches and tried to overcome his weaknesses,” Azhar said.
With just six wickets against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, Yasir may face a little bit of pressure as this series can turn out to be his future decider.
On the other hand, top-four batsmen will play a vital role in Pakistan’s campaign against England in Tests. Most likely, the green shirts will carry on winning combination in batting with Shan Masood and Abid Ali as openers followed by Azhar Ali and Babar Azam at number three and four respectively.
“We will try to not disturb our winning combination from the last Test against Bangladesh. Abid and Shan have performed really well for us and we will go with them tomorrow to let them continue their form,” Azhar confirmed openers during the pressers.
Abid and Shan scored two centuries each against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Abid scored 321 runs at an average of 107 in the last three matches whereas Shan made 240 runs.
Being the first choice, Mohammad Rizwan will play as wicket-keeper batsman in the first Test against England. He recently scored a ton in practice match which ensured his form.
Asad Shafiq will be crucial to watch at number 5 as the experienced batsman is expected to lead the batting line from the front with Azhar.
The series opener will be played at Old Trafford and the weather update shows slight showers expected tomorrow, but a full cricket day is likely to amuse fans across the world.