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Pakistan are set to tour England this summer for the first time since 2010, with four Test matches lined up throughout July and August to be followed by five One-Day International and a Twenty20 match. It’s been six years since the famous tour of 2010 which was embroiled in controversy, and the man and the centre of the storm, Mohammed Amir, will be back to test England’s batsmen after his five-year ban came to an end last September.
The first Test will be played at Lord’s starting this Thursday 14th July at 11am GMT. From there the players will go to the Emirates Old Trafford for the second Test on Friday 22nd July, then on to Edgbaston for the third Test from the 3rd of August. The fourth and final Test match will be contested at the Kia Oval starting on the 11th of August.
Six years have passed since the controversial tour of 2010, but you can be sure that plenty of the build-up will surround the infamous four no-balls bowled by Amir which led to his arrest and charges. Using undercover reporters the News of the World gathered information predicting that two Pakistan bowlers, Amir and Asif, would bowl no-balls at certain points during the match. Spot-fixing has been a blight on the game of cricket, and eventually Amir, Asif and Test captain Salman Butt were found guilty and given prison sentences and lengthy bans.
Amir, who at the time had just burst on the scene as a brilliant 18 year-old bowler, has now returned to the game and on recent evidence he retains plenty of the ability that caused such a sensation. Amir took three wickets for 36 against Somerset in one of Pakistan’s tour matches ahead of the Test series, and his pace and late swing is likely to give the fragile English top order plenty to think about. The six wickets he took for 84 back in 2010 was the devastating spell that put him in the spotlight, and it adds an extra level of spice to this series that he is back on the field.
England cricket has undergone something of a renaissaince ove the last year, with the side moving up the rankings, and they prepared for this by thumping Sri Lanka in the Test series, One-Day International series and a Twenty20 match.
Coming over and winning in England is tough for the world’s best cricket teams, and although Pakistan just shade England in the ICC Test rankings, the hosts are rightly the favourites to win on home soil. General prices of -278 don’t make huge appeal though, particularly with doubts over the English batting order continuing to rumble on.
Pakistan are good enough to cause problems and take at least one Test, and if England don’t get it all their own way, a better punt might be on them to win the test series by a 3-1 scoreline at +700 with Coral.
Gary Ballance said he was as surprised as anyone to receive the call to return to the Test squad, having been absent since the 2015 Ashes, but he will replace Nick Compton who is taking a break from the game. The Yorkshire batsman has averaged just 33.64 in the County Championship this term, and although there are signs that he is coming back to his best, it does serve to highlight England’s issues in the batting order.
England’s top test wicket-taker, James Anderson, also misses out through a shoulder injury, and he’s been replaced by Toby Roland-Jones. The latter earns his first international call up and will battle Jake Ball for a spot in the first eleven.
Mohammed Amir will be under the spotlight for Pakistan as he continues his return to first class cricket, but there are plenty of those in the game who find his participation difficult to accept. He was booed by the crowd in New Zealand when he made his comeback for Pakistan in January, and the English crowds aren’t guaranteed to be any more forgiving.
Regardless, if he can keep his mind on the game, there is no doubt that he has the ability to be one of the world’s best bowlers, and he is worth a side bet to take most wickets for Pakistan. The +225 on offer with 888Sport and Unibet about Mohammed Amir to be top Pakistan bowler in the series might look like a steal by the time the fourth test gets underway on the 11th of August.
England to win the Test Series 3-1
Starts 14th July, 11:00 GMT
Mohammed Amir to be Top Pakistan Bowler in the Test Series
Starts 14th July, 11:00 GMT
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