Pakistan v England: Second Test Preview7 min read
Friday 1st June, Lord’s, Start time: 11am (UK)
Despite being comprehensively outplayed at Lord’s and losing by nine wickets, England are favourites to win the second Test to draw the series.
England’s batting has been consistently fragile for a while now and despite a reshuffle in the order and the inclusion of Jos Buttler as a specialist number seven, that issue remained a serious issue in the first Test. Pakistan played maturely and sensibly – a particularly impressive display given the inexperience in their ranks. With the ball Pakistan bowled better lengths, exploited the conditions better and it might seem odd, given how woeful they were at Lord’s, that England are favourites but they haven’t’ lost any of their last seven home series and have a habit of bouncing back after a heavy defeat.
But there does seem to be something wrong at the moment, Joe Root hasn’t found his captaincy style yet and senior players are simply not stepping up.
Weather, pitch and conditions
There isn’t any substantial rain forecast in Leeds for the next few days and Headingley usually produces a result although not always in England’s favour. It is their least successful home venue. Expect it to be a bowler dominated match again and the match will be determined by which side bowls a fuller length and which batsmen can negotiate the moving ball the most successfully. There’s definitely value in backing Pakistan at , they are well drilled, they look high on confidence and in Abbas and Amir have two match winning bowlers.
This may be an inexperienced squad but looking at the way Pakistan played at Lord’s, you might be forgiven for thinking they were the home side. They’ve lost Babar Azam to a broken arm and he’s a big loss. It’s likely he will be replaced by Faqar Zhaman. The bulk of the batting responsibility will again fall on Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq and it’s worth looking at either of those two to be Pakistan’s leading run scorers in the match – Azhar Ali is the fav and Asad Shafiq is . Both made half centuries at Lord’s and looked adept against the moving ball playing it very late and working it around. They are two of Pakistan’s more experienced players and come into this match in good form.
Mohammad Abbas was hugely impressive at Lord’s picking up eight wickets and the man of the match award. He’s worth a look to be Pakistan’s leading wicket taker again. Abbas has an extraordinary story – he was going to give up cricket altogether and take a job at an airport in Germany. He would have been a real loss to the game and looks incredibly well suited to English conditions. Pitching the ball up, he is a real handful.
England have made the unusual step of making a change half way through a two match series. They’ve put Mark Stoneman out of his misery. He was having a torrid time looking horribly short of form and confidence. They’ve replaced him with Keaton Jennings, who scored a century on debut in India but was dropped last summer when he struggled against South Africa. He’s gone back to county cricket and worked on his technique and it’s often the case that those who come into the team either having been out of it or on their debut have a clutter free head and are more focused on performing well. Jennings is an impressive cricketer and I’m backing him to be England’s leading run scorer in the match at .
Ben Stokes could be an injury worry, England will make a late fitness call on him. If he is unavailable they are likely to bring in Chris Woakes to bat at seven with Jos Buttler, who showed he can adapt his game to the red ball, moving up to six. England have called up 19 year old Surrey all rounder Sam Curran as cover for Ben Stokes and that may be a nod to the future by new national selector Ed Smith. The other youngster in the side, Dom Bess, showed his impressive credentials with the bat during his century partnership with Jos Buttler but is still to prove what he can do as a spinner. Conditions and England’s low score were not in his favour. Headingley is not known as a spinners paradise so this may not be the place he spins England to victory either.Jimmy Anderson has by his own omission a modest match at Lord’s but does like bowling at Headingley.
Stokes would be a big miss for England, particularly with the ball. He bowled a nine over spell at Lord’s that showed him at his bowling best. If he plays, it’s worth looking at him to be England’s leading wicket taker. If Woakes plays, there may be value in looking at him – conditions should suit him although he’s played very little cricket recently.