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23-May-2018 08:11:00 GMT
Eng v Pak, 1st Test, The Lord's

Young Pakistan Ready to Put England Under Pressure

London: Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur believes his "fearless" side have everything to gain when they face an "under the pump" England in the first Test at Lord's on Thursday.

England will be looking for some much-needed home comfort after recent winless Test tours of Australia and New Zealand extended their poor away record in cricket's longest format to 13 matches without a victory.

Pakistan, by contrast, enter this two-match campaign on the back of a morale-boosting five-wicket win over Test debutants Ireland at Malahide last week.

England, in their first Test since Ed Smith became their new head selector, continue to have doubts over a batting order where captain Joe Root has been promoted to number three, wicket-keeper Jonny Bairstow to five and Jos Buttler recalled at seven.

And with Jack Leach injured, England could give a Test debut to his fellow Somerset spinner Dominic Bess.

Two years ago, England were held to a 2-2 home draw by Pakistan in a four-Test series.

Since then veteran batsmen Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan have both retired, with Pakistan hoping the likes of Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq can fill the void.

But it is Imam-ul-Haq, the nephew of Pakistan selection chief and former Test batsman Inzamam-ul-Haq, who has made three fifties from as many games this tour -- including a match-clinching innings against Ireland.

The tourist much could depend on Pakistan left-arm quick Mohammad Amir, who has enjoyed Test success and a Champions Trophy triumph in England, as well as a 2017 County Championship title with Essex, since his career was almost ended by his involvement in a spot-fixing scandal at Lord's during the 2010 tour.

If the 20-year-old Bess plays he won't be the youngest slow bowler in the match, with 19-year-old Pakistan leg-spinner Shadab Khan replacing the injured Yasir Shah.

England appear set to decide between seam-bowling all-rounder Chris Woakes and injury-prone fast bowler Mark Wood for the last place in their XI, with one of pacemen Rahat Ali or Hasan Ali dropped from Pakistan's 12-man squad.

The most in-form English batsman coming into the series is their captain, which is always a good sign for any team. Root may have had issues getting centuries, but has nine half-centuries in his last nine Tests. .

Azhar Ali -- the most experienced top-order batsman in the Pakistan line-up, ali will have the responsibility of playing out the new ball and laying a platform for the middle order to capitalise on.

With so many youngsters around, the 33-year-old has a big job on his hands and one that he is aware of. If Ali can get going, the others can play around him.

Teams from

England:
Joe Root (c), Mark Stoneman, Alastair Cook, Dawid Malan, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Dom Bess, Mark Wood

Pakistan: Sarfraz Ahmed (c and wk), Azhar Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Sami Aslam, Haris Sohail, Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, Saad Ali, Asad Shafiq, Usman Salahuddin, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Abbas, Hasan Ali, Rahat Ali, Faheem Ashraf

Pitch and conditions:
The forecast for the first Test isn't great, with rains predicted in London first two days. The fast bowlers on either side will be happy.

Stats and trivia

  • Joe Root needed 157 more runs to completes 6000 Test runs while Stuart Broad requires 26-run for 3000 runs in Test matches
  • All rounder Ben Stokes needed five wickets for 100 Test wickets

Match facts
24-28 May 2018
Start time: 11:00 local (10:00 GMT)


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