Deadline: August 5, 2020 at 3:30 PM
Venue: Old Trafford, Manchester
Pakistan could not have asked for better conditions. The pitch is dry, helping the spinners catch the batsmen in turn and the pacers trap the batsmen with reverse-swing. The batsmen too should be able to dominate if they choose their shots wisely, especially while playing on the off-side.
There will be a few rain interruptions, but they aren’t likely to last longer. The temperature is expected to hover between 22 and 24 degree Celsius.
At the same venue and against the same opposition, Joe Root scored his highest Test score of 254 runs in 2016. Overall, he has a remarkable record against Pakistan: 916 runs at 61.06 in 9 Tests.
In the same Test, Chris Woakes took 7 wickets and played a vital innings of 58 runs. He, in fact, has had a good time at the venue, grabbing 19 wickets at 19.5 in a mere 4 Tests. He was also the highest wicket-taker in the four-match series in 2016, having sniped up 26 wickets including two five-wicket hauls.
Babar Azam is the only Pakistan player in the list of top 10 batsmen in ICC Test Rankings. Since 2019 he has scored 4 hundreds and 3 fifties in 5 Tests.
Azhar Ali scored the bulk of the runs for Pakistan when they toured England four years ago, including a fighting hundred at Birmingham. In the practice match last week, he retired out on 120. Although all eyes will be on Babar Azam, the onus of keeping Pakistan’s innings together will be on Azhar Ali.
Dropping Stuart Broad in the first Test against West Indies cost England dearly. Upon his return, he reminded his importance to the selectors and team management. Not only did he take 16 wickets in 2 matches but also played a crucial innings of 62 runs at No. 10.
Ben Stokes is the No. 1 all-rounder and No. 4 batsman in ICC Test Rankings. He was adjudged Player of the Series twice in England’s last three series. Enough said!
England seem to have finally found a stable opening pair. Both Rory Burns and Dom Sibley have been among runs, building solid foundations. While Burns scored 234 runs in the previous series, Sibley managed 12 runs fewer.
Mohammad Abbas will lead the pace attack for Pakistan. He was the destroyer-in-chief in Pakistan’s win at Lord’s in 2018, scalping 8 wickets. He was adjudged Player of the Series, which Pakistan drew 1-1.
Pakistan might fancy playing the wrist-spin duo of Yasir Shah and Shadab Khan, also powering up their batting. While Yasir scored a hundred at Adelaide in 2019, Shadab scored consecutive fifties in the 2018 tour.
England: Rory Burns, Dom Sibley, Joe Root (c), Ben Stokes, Ollie Pope, Jos Buttler (wk), Chris Woakes, Dom Bess, Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad, James Anderson
Pakistan: Shan Masood, Abid Ali, Azhar Ali (c), Babar Azam, Asad Shafiq, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Shadab Khan, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Abbas, Naseem Shah, Sohail Khan