There is a huge difference in terms of experiences in the two set of players. England’s veteran opener Alistair Cook has 12,028 runs in 154 Tests, Pakistan’s top six batsmen didn’t even match that figure.
England’s James Anderson (531 wickets) and Stuart Broad (410) have 941 Test wickets and are regarded as one of the best new ball pairing to have graced the game. Pakistan’s six bowlers — five of whom will play in the first of two Tests — have a combine of 202 wickets with Mohammad Amir the only one who has 100 wickets.
But on the field a young and lively Pakistan team has the capability to upset any team in the world. They are novices yet full of aspirations. If they play up to their potential they can stand up against their opponents who have not lost a home series since their defeat to Sri Lanka in 2014.
Pakistan, who won their last Test against Ireland but have lost 11 of their last 17 (all under head coach Mickey Arthur) can take solace from the fact that England too have lost five of their last seven and were bowled out for just 58 in their Test before last.
Pakistan will also take confidence from the fact that Lord’s has been their favourite hunting ground having won here in 1992, 1996 and 2016. The venue gives them more chance than Leeds where they play the second Test from June 1.
But this time around Pakistan will miss their two senior batsmen Misbah-ul- Haq and Younis Khan who retired last year. Misbah had famously hit that push-up hundred at Lord’s to set the tone for Pakistan’s good first innings total. Also missing from the line-up will be wily leg-spinner Yasir Shah who took two wickets in that match where victory followed the famous push-ups.
Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed admitted experience will be a factor.
“Yes, they have too much experience in their ranks and that is a factor but I have told my players not to worry about that and play like you are playing a domestic match,” said Sarfraz. “Seven players will be playing for the first time at Lord’s so that’s in itself an honour.
“Win or lose we want to fight hard. We are a new team in Tests so we have to learn a lot and gain experience.”
With the batting not as solid as in 2016, Pakistan will look to Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq and Sarfraz Ahmed who were all part of the 2016 team. To add to trio’s experiences will be the talent of Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam and Haris Sohail. Imam, castigated for his selection on the tour as nepotism for being Inzamam-ul-Haq’s nephew, has started the tour with three half centuries to prove his criticise wrong. Shadab Khan and Faheem Ashraf will further supplement the batting, like they did with a hundred-plus partnership in a tricky first innings against Ireland.
If Pakistan put up a healthy first innings total they have the firepower to surprise England. Their main hopes lie with Mohammad Amir who was declared fit to play after struggling with a knee injury ar Dublin. The two Test series will be make or break for Amir’s Test career as he himself want to avoid the longer version for limited overs cricket.
If Hasan Ali recovers from a webbing injury he will be preferred over Rahat li who has a lean tour as he went wicket-less in the two side games plust at Dublin. But Rahat had four wickets (two in each innings in a win over Northamptonshire) and has experience of 21 Tests. Shadab has shown promise in limited over matches
England will hope Cook returns to form after dismal tours of Australia and New Zealand, with only a double hundred to show in the whole Ashes. Cook had scores of 5, 2, 2,14 in the four innings in New Zealand so if Pakistan can get him early they can pressurise England’s best batsman at the moment, their skipper Joe Root.
Sarfraz warned Pakistan could exploit England’s recent poor showings.
“We know they have not done well recently so that’s a good thing for us,” said Sarfraz, one of four players from the 2016 team.
England are also likely to leave on of the pacers from Chis Woakes and Mark Wood to accommodate off-spinner Dominic Bess for his first Test. Woakes is favoured to play having come too good against Pakistan in 2016 — six wickets at Lord’s and 24 in the series.