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England v Pakistan Preview & Tips: Poms to take advantage of home conditions
Men in Green need a vast improvement to take down England on home soil
Captain Joe Root will be hoping to lead England to victory against Pakistan (Stu Forster/Getty Images)
England v Pakistan Preview & Tips
When the curtains rise on the England v Pakistan series this summer, it will be a clash of two sides desperate for a change of the status quo. England's Test team is fighting for its credibility, while Pakistan are looking eagerly at its young side to forge a new identity.
Pakistan will hope that their two Tests at Lord’s (May 24 – 28) and Leeds (June 1 – 5) helps them to ring in a new era.
It was a chastening tour of Australia and New Zealand for Joe Root’s men, who were left bruised and battered with wins in the shorter formats unable to mask their difficulties in the Test match arena.
England have been way below par in Test cricket in recent times, despite coach Trevor Bayliss doing exceptionally well in one day and T20 cricket. It may have been the ‘away blues’ that has been cause of their problems, but is it enough to sweep their troubles under the carpet?
New national selector Ed Smith has his hands full trying to find a stable top order. Alastair Cook and Mark Stoneman opened the batting in Australia and New Zealand, but Cook’s future continues to hog the headlines Stoneman’s average of 30 over ten Tests is underwhelming.
With Haseeb Hameed, Keaton Jennings, and Ben Duckett all struggling to impress in the County Championship, it looks like England could be underprepared for the Pakistan series. Even number three batsman James Vince is under pressure to retain his place after flattering to deceive in the southern hemisphere which places further pressure on captain Joe Root.
Thankfully for Root, England’s bowling looks a lot more settled, especially with Ben Stokes set to make a comeback. Stokes’ IPL performances haven’t been up to the mark but he is known to lift his performances at the right time.
The Men in Green are incredibly inconsistent with their die-hard supporters unsure they can win a game. Even their Champions Trophy success in England last year, after a final win over arch-rivals India, was as much a surprise as a shock.
This tour of the British Isles is shaping up as a daunting one for a fairly young Pakistan squad. Last time around in 2016, senior batsmen Younis Khan and Misbah-Ul-Haq helped them level a four-match Test series 2-2 but both are now happily retired.
As many as five uncapped players have been picked by the tourists, which increases the responsibility of senior pros Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq. The two have played enough cricket to drive the side forward and Babar Azam is rated extremely high back home.
Having a pugnacious and punchy Sarfraz Ahmed at the helm will definitely add character to this side, but will it be enough? Whatever the state of their batting, Pakistan always boast of a very strong pace attack.
Mohammad Amir, Rahat Ali, and Hasan Ali provide a strong trident for Pakistan to be a force in this series. Amir may have a chequered past in this country, but there is no hiding the fact that he is an exceptional seamer. He has a record to settle too after serving a spot fixing ban, returning to the country where he brought shame onto himself and his nation.
Yasir Shah’s injury-induced absence is a blow, but in the young and exciting Shadab Khan they have a ready-made replacement.
England have the edge against Pakistan in Test cricket but haven’t tasted victory in the last three series. The last series was in England in 2016 with the series tied 2-2, Pakistan comfortably winning the previous two series held in the United Arab Emirates in 2011/12 and 2015/16. England defeated Pakistan 3-0 in 2006 and 3-1 in 2010, both on home soil.
England may be coming off a poor tour of Australia and New Zealand in the long form of the game, but they should have too much quality in their own backyard against a Pakistan team in transition.
- England have won 24 and drawn 37 of 81 Tests against Pakistan.
- England have won 22 and drawn 18 of 51 Tests at home against Pakistan.
- The last time Pakistan won a series in England was in 1996.
England have a better team and home conditions is a valuable advantage in cricket. If Pakistan win the series it will be nothing short of a miracle, with their inexperienced batsmen tackling English conditions so early in the summer.
Even the most ardent supporter of Pakistan cricket will admit that a series loss where they show some fight in both matches will not be a disaster.
Best Bet: England to win