Pakistan and England will come up against each other, in what is perceived to be a fascinating series, from tomorrow. After a humiliating loss against Pakistan last time in UAE, England will look to settle the score this time around. But Pakistan on the other hand are a force to reckon with especially on their home away from home i.e. the United Arab Emirates.
Some stats before the series begins are worth taking a look.
Pakistan and England have played each other 74 times in test matches in which Pakistan have won 16 times while England have the upper hand with 21 wins while 37 matches ended in a draw. 2012 series was the only occasion the two sides played at a neutral venue (UAE) and those were won by Pakistan in a famous whitewash against the then number one ranked test side.
Azhar Ali was the top scores in the 2012 UAE series when he amassed 251 runs in 3 test matches at an average of 50 runs. He alos scored a century and a half century during the series and was one of the two players who scored a century during that series with the other one being Younis khan. Pakistan will most definitely miss him during the first test match as he has the temperament to play long innings and grind out a knock under pressure.
Pakistan will field an entirely different bowling attack as compared to series against England in 2012. The chief destroyer of that series Saeed Ajmal along with Abdur Rehman and Hafeez wont be there this time. The spin trio combined to take 48 wickets during that series.
Pakistan have a fantastic record at the venue of the first test, Sheikh Zayed stadium in Abu Dhabi, as they have never lost a test match here. Pakistan have played seven and won four out of them while 3 matches ended in a draw. Lats two test matches they played here won in convincing fashion by Pakistan as they outclassed Australia and the Blackcaps by 356 runs and 248 runs respectively.In the 2012 series Pakistan won an amazing match by 72 runs as they defended a low total of 144 runs as they dismissed the English side for 72 runs in the fourth innings.
Captain Misbah ul haq has a staggering average of almost 121 runs per innings at this venue as he has scored a massive 844 runs in 7 matches he has played. He has scored 5 centuries and 3 fifties as well on this very venue. Junaid khan is the joint top wicket taker here along with Saeed Ajmal as they have taken 18 wickets each. This might play in Khan’s favor as he looks to make his way back into the national side. He has been struggling for form due to constant injuries and so the tour selection committee have to assess all areas before they make a decision about him.
England batsman will have to perform considerably better during this tour as compared to their previous exploits when there top order failed miserably and wikcet keeper Mat Prior was their top scorer with 150 runs. So its vital for Cook and company to pile up runs with the bat and formulate a strategy to counter the Pakistan spinners.
Long story cut short, it is safe to say that this series will be far more competitive than the previous one and Pakistan especially should not complacent and over confident before the start of the series because England team will be no easy pushovers again. Intense cricket coming your way as both teams look to battle it out under the scorching heat of UAE.