Long after the COVID-19 pandemic put a brake on all sporting events, cricket resumed in a ‘biosecure’ atmosphere. After winning the 3-game test series against the West Indies, England is now hosting the Pakistani squad. This is the latter’s first time playing under the pandemic-induced regulations.
To sum up a preview of the fixture, Joe Root and company will aim to clinch their first series win over Pakistan in a decade. The squad has done well against most of its primary rivals. However, a series win over Pakistan last came in 2010. In contrast, Misbah-ul-Haq’s men will find some reassurance from the results of their last two series against England. The two series in 2016 and 2018 ended on level terms.
With no other cricketing fixture worldwide, the international cricket community will turn their attention to this series. Here are a few things that you can expect from this World Test Championship series!
Pakistan’s Strength: Pacers
The visitors, under the guidance of their legendary player Misbah-ul-Haq, have performed fairly well in the World Test Championship. Regardless, this England tour will prove challenging for two reasons. One, it is the new normal that the players will need to adapt to the different regulations. Two, a 5-day test right after a long hiatus will test both stamina and grit.
According to Misbah, Pakistan’s standing in the series will largely depend on the players’ ability to play the English pace. The like Stuart Broad and James Anderson will make it difficult for the Pakistani lineup to score big.
However, Misbah also believes in Pakistan’s strong bowling group. The lightning pace of Shaheen Afridi, coupled with Mohammad Abbas’s sharp and precise bowling, will pose a threat to the English batsmen. Apart from that, a new face among Pakistan’s bowlers is that Naseem Shah, a teenager showing immense potential.
England Looking for a Series Win
The English team has managed a defeat in the first game of 8 out of their last 10 test series. However, this statistic does not hint at England losing the series in any way. The English side has the home-field advantage. Besides, they are also a step ahead of Pakistan, having already played a 3-game series against the Windies.
England’s pace attack is as formidable as ever. With names like Jofra Archer, James Anderson, and Stuart Broad, they have a terrorizing quality to their bowling attack. Their major worry, however, is Ben Stokes’s quad injury. The all-rounder is likely to not throw many balls against Pakistan. His role with the bat is more important for the English side.
Front-Foot No-Ball Technology
There have been many additions and subtractions in the rules after the pandemic. One of the additions to the England-Pakistan series is the front-foot no-ball technology.
As per the new rules, the TV umpire will look for the no-ball instead of the on-field umpire. Similar to the VAR technology in football, this is not the first time that such a technology will come in use in cricket. This technology also featured in India vs West Indies series in 2019. Furthermore, it was used in the Women’s T20 World Cup as well.
The stakeholders will also review its performance in this series before sanctioning it for future use in test cricket.
For the cricket fans across the world, the England-Pakistan series brings in some exciting play. Both sides are contending for a higher rank in the World Test Championship. While the hosts are positioned at number 3, the visitors are not far behind at number 6. It will be interesting to watch these two sides play out a thrilling 3-game series in Manchester and Southampton.