England vs Pakistan 1st Test Predicted XI: Two spinners for visiting team, hosts likely to remain unchanged
Misbah Ul Haq has hinted at playing two spinners considering the Manchester surface while England are expected to go with the same Playing XI that beat the West Indies comprehensively in the final Test last month.Updated: Aug 05, 2020 00:00 IST
After a cracker of a Test series between England and West Indies last month, it’s Pakistan’s turn to face an in-form England side in a three-Test series. The two teams will face each other in the first Test in Manchester starting Wednesday, and it indicates the end of a long wait for Pakistan. Ever since the dates of the series were released, Pakistan found themselves in the grips of the Covid-19 when numerous players were tested positive for it. It took time but the squad was finally finalised and flew to England.
England and Pakistan will enjoy the benefit of the bio-secure environment of Manchester and Southampton - which will host the second and third Tests. But before we get there, let’s shift our focus back to Wednesday, which promises to kickstart what promises to be another engaging Test series between two very good Test sides.
Pakistan’s head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq has not ruled out the possibility of playing two spinners in the first Test against England which begins from Wednesday at Old Trafford.
“We have looked at the West Indies series and we have seen that at Manchester and Southampton conditions are different and we are seeing some dry conditions and help for spinners and reverse swing,” Misbah said during a media interaction on Monday.
It could stem from the fact that the last time Pakistan played a Test series in England, Yasir Shah tasted tremendous success, and even though he has lost a bit of touch over the last 12 months, the leg-spinner is capable of turning the clock back. In Shah and Shadab Khan, Pakistan can play their cards well. Based on that, here is what we expect the Pakistan Playing XI to be
Pakistan Playing XI: Shan Masood, Abid Ali, Azhar Ali (C), Babar Azam, Asad Shafiq, Mohammad Rizwan (WK), Yasir Shah, Shadab Khan Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah, Mohammad Abbas
As far as England are concerned, they continue to wait on the fitness of star all-rounder Ben Stokes, who has been struggling with a quad injury for the last couple of weeks. It has led Joe Root to delay naming England’s Playing XI for the series opener. Although chances are that Stokes will make recovery in time, there’s always an element of uncertainty involved. Stokes bowled in the Manchester nets on Monday but rain cut short his planned stint on Tuesday.
England have experimented with their fast bowling combination of late, but it should be a no-brainer to go with an unchanged side that beat West Indies comprehensively to clinch the series. Expect England to go ahead with a four-pronged pace attack comprising James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Jofra Archer and Chris Woakes, with Dom Bess being the lone spinner. That obviously can change depending on Stokes’ fitness. Here’s the XI we feel England will field.
England Probable XI: Dominic Sibley, Rory Burns, Zak Crawley, Joe Root (C), Ben Stokes, Ollie Pope, Jos Buttler (WK), Chris Woakes, Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad, James Anderson