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After a resurgence in English cricket over the last year, plenty of fans expected more cause for celebration during Pakistan’s tour this summer, but the visitors have given the England squad a lot to think about after a successful 1st Test at Lord’s. The 75-run victory was inspired by leg-spinner Yasir Shah as he took 10-141 and rose to the top of the Test bowling rankings in the process. England’s batting troubles came back to haunt them again as they were unable to deal with Shah’s spin, Alastair Cook branding their collective batting as “naive”, and responsible for the defeat.
It’s all set up nicely for the 2nd Test at Old Trafford which starts on Friday morning, and after a mini-heatwave during the week, there’s every chance the pitch will afford more spin than the surface at Lord’s. England must find a way of countering Shah’s delivery, and the return of Ben Stokes will be a welcome addition. James Anderson and Adil Rashid are also recalled and this is a match that England won’t want to lose with two more Tests remaining after this one in the series.
1st Test at Lord’s
England bowled Pakistan out for 339 in their first innings, with Chris Woakes taking an impressive 6-70 and Stuart Broad chipping in with 3-71. However, a poor first knock with the bat saw England total just 272 with Cook (81) and Root (48) the only men in the top order to come out with any real credit. Hales (6), Vince (16) and Ballance (6) under-performed, with the latter two falling to Yasir as he took 6-72.
Pakistan then managed just 215 in their second innings, with Woakes again picking up the mantle taking 5-32. That left England chasing a total of 283 – what would have been a record England run chase at Lord’s – but they failed to get close to the target, being bowled out for 207. Yasir’s 4-69 took his test total to 10 wickets and led Pakistan to a 75-run victory.
Alastair Cook said his side “allowed” Yasir to take six wickets when he “wasn’t turning the ball”, and that was what cost them. The leg-spinners figures were the best ever from a Pakistan bowler at Lord’s and England have only been successful in one of their last six Tests there. Coach Trevor Bayliss lamented his team’s fielding and said “We’ve got to play and defend like it’s our home turf”.
England’s Batting Woes
England continue to have a weakness in the batting order, and for some time have struggled to settle on an opening pair. Alex Hales looks set to retain his position as Cook’s opening partner, with Joe Root retaining his place after being moved up to number three. More will be expected from Vince and Ballance, while Ben Stokes potential return to the top six would be a boost.
Much will come down to how those men deal with spin on a surface that suits the slow ball. James Anderson’s return for England then is clearly a boost, while Rashid may also be utilised alongside Moeen Ali as a spin pairing.
2nd Test All Important
England were as short as 9/25 1.36 -278 0.36 -2.78 0.36 to win the 1st Test, and despite the poor showing, they are worth backing at 1/1 2.00 +100 1.00 1.00 -1.00 with SkyBet and Paddy Power to turn things around at Old Trafford.
With four tests in the series, Pakistan could wrap up at least a draw with a win in this match, and that would spell humiliation for England on home soil. It’s worth noting that for all of England’s disappointment and Pakistan’s excellent performance, there were still times on the final day when the English team looked in with a chance of pulling off something remarkable. If they can start on the front foot in the 2nd Test and avoid costly early mistakes, even odds is a decent price about them levelling up the series at 1-1.
England to win the 2nd Test
Starts Friday 22nd July, 11:00 GMT
Odds: 1/1 2.00 +100 1.00 1.00 -1.00
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