England found their form to crush the West Indies in the third Test, claiming the series in the process. Joe Root’s men controlled the contest from start to finish and closed out the victory comfortably on the final day.
Stuart Broad was once again in devastating form with the ball, earning his 500th Test wicket. He notched 10 wickets in the match to further prove his point to the selectors, who left him out of the opener. Chris Woakes also starred with the ball, claiming five strikes in the West Indies’ second innings.
As a result, England have another tough selection call for the series against Pakistan regarding their seam attack, with Mark Wood and Sam Curran lurking. The batting ranks for once look settled amid Jos Buttler’s half-century in England’s first innings. However, England know they will need to raise the standard of their game with the arrival of Pakistan.
The Green Army played out a thrilling 2-2 draw against England on their last visit in 2016. They’re a different side now, but still have a lot of talent at their disposal. Exciting 17-year-old seamer Naseem Shah is a very intriguing prospect, while Mohammad Abbas has a brilliant average, leading the bowling attack.
Babar Azam will look to enhance his burgeoning reputation with the bat in tough conditions. There’s ample star power in both sides for another great series and there should be no shortage of entertainment.
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England were impressive in the third Test against the West Indies. They were relentless with the ball and disciplined enough with the bat to ensure the game was never in doubt. The Three Lions have found at long last an opening partnership with Rory Burns and Dominic Sibley.
The duo are not going to provide fireworks at the top of the order, but they have provided the stability that England have craved since the retirements of Sir Andrew Strauss and Sir Alastair Cook.
The only debate will be whether Zak Crawley returns to the side at number three. He was left out in the final match against the West Indies to allow Jofra Archer to return to the side.
England will have to address whether they will continue with four seamers and spinner Dominic Bess. Crawley would provide a further layer of protection for Root and Ben Stokes in the middle order against a quality bowling attack.
However, it would be a bold decision to drop James Anderson, Woakes, Broad or Archer after their performances against the West Indies. The Three Lions have lost the opening Test match of their last four series on the bounce.
They managed to dig themselves out of trouble on three of those occasions, but to become a Test match force once again England have to be dominant from the off. Chris Silverwood will be keen to continue his impressive start as coach and he will be stressing the importance of their solid fundamentals against a team that is stacked with talent.
Pakistan arrive in England with a talented squad at their disposal. They’ve not managed to use their potential to achieve success in the Test match arena, especially overseas. Their last series win abroad came against the West Indies in 2017.
They did produce a thrilling draw on their last trip to England, although they had the experience of Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan in their ranks. There are not quite the levels of guile from 2016, but Asad Shafiq and Azhar Ali both scored centuries in that series.
A lot will be expected of Azam to counteract the England attack. His Test match average is trending in the right direction, although he has still not reached the levels of his one-day form.
The 25-year-old has scored three centuries in last three Test matches and will be keen to make a statement against Broad, Anderson and company. Abid Ali has made a promising start to his Test career, scoring two centuries in his first three matches. Players of his ilk will have to step forward to support Azam and Azhar Ali in the series.
Pakistan have a battery of quality seamers to throw at England, but they will need to prove they are able to capitalise on conditions. The experience of Wahab Riaz will be important, although Sohail Khan fared well four years ago.
All eyes will be on prodigy Naseem Shah as the 17-year-old will look to build on his promising start. Abbas has been taking wickets for fun in county cricket in England and has a formidable Test match average.
If he gets going then Pakistan could be in business. Yasir Shah was underwhelming in 2016 and needs to improve to be the match-winner he is capable of being for the Green Army.
Day one’s forecast does not look encouraging for a full day of action, with rain predicted for at least the morning. However, the rest of the four days appears to be promising therefore there should be more than enough time for a result. The pitch has been fine at Old Trafford thus far and has had plenty to offer for both batsmen and bowlers.
The two sides are fairly even, although England have the advantage of home conditions. The Three Lions have also been in competitive action whereas Pakistan have been limited to inter-squad friendlies. It will aid England, who will be sharp and ready for the off, especially considering that they’ve played two matches at Old Trafford.
There are a lot of unknowns about Pakistan’s squad and how they will cope in English conditions. The Three Lions have outstanding players in form – with Stokes and Broad looking in peak touch. As a result, back England to begin the series with a win at Old Trafford.
England to beat Pakistan 1st Test – 1.50 Betway