Little chance of conservatism from England as Pakistan search for bowling balance

Big Picture

Harder, faster, better, stronger. England have adopted the Daft Punk approach in reviving their Test fortunes and reshaping the format overall. How do you raise the bar after scoring close the 1000 runs at a run per ball and then crowbarring the 20th wicket to win one of the most remarkable – and hardest-earned victories in Test history, despite the darkening shadows of the final session of day five?

Ben Stokes, England’s captain/nutty-professor-in-chief, has a few ideas on that front, but will be content for more of the same in Multan. England may be leading the series 1-0 in a country that has only won twice before but there is little chance of conservatism creeping into the game. With allrounder Liam Livingstone out of the series, Stokes, McCullum and Mark Wood bringing in a fast bowler to enhance their cutting edge.

McCullum had stated at the start that his team would be striving for results, even if it meant defeat. It helps that England’s World Test Championship hopes were dead upon arrival. There is no better way than to go 2-0 up in a series of three matches after two.

Babar Azam may be grateful to know that this England will keep coming, much like an undead horde. He does not enjoy the stress that comes with setting the fields when England’s batters are in charge. But that very impulsiveness could result in Pakistan being allowed back into the contest, particularly if the pitches are anything like Rawalpindi.

Pakistan may need to find a new spirit for adventure, but they could start by selecting and then move on. The batters performed well in the first Test. They scored hundreds for the captain, openers, and Saud Shakeel with 76 runs. It is clear that England’s attack with three debutants and Naseem, 19, as its most-experienced head, was always going to struggle against it.

According to early reports from Multan, spin may play an important role in the Test. The contest should be more lively, which could reduce England’s strokeplay edge. India chose this route to show their strength in India’s home conditions during the 2020-21 tour. However, the Bazball response to playing in Bunsen would be fascinating.

If Pakistan is to keep their WTC final hopes alive, they must push for better results in four home Tests against England. Once the morning fog in Multan has cleared, it will be time to pedal to the metal again. Go harder or go home.

Form guide

Pakistan LLWLD (last 5 Tests, most recent First)
England WWWLW

In the spotlight

A surprise debut, only a few minutes before toss, meant Will Jacks He was able to slip into Test whites under the radar. Livingstone’s knee injury forced Jacks to step up and bowl 40.3 overs. This was more than Jacks had ever achieved in a first-class innings. Jacks went on to score 6 runs for 161. His ability to score hundreds and still give his offspin a rip has already drawn comparisons to Moeen Ali. His performance in Rawalpindi will likely only increase these expectations. The challenge is to keep up with them.

Abdullah Shafique He has had a spectacular start to his Test career. He was first capped just over one year ago, having only played two of his first-class games. He now averages 65.84 runs from eight Tests, with Rawalpindi’s 114 being the seventh time that he has exceeded 50 runs in 15 innings. If he can score an additional 144 runs in England, he will be the England Test Captain. Fastest Pakistan batter to 1000 in tests. Although opening the batting in Pakistan seems like a good job right now, England’s unconventional new-ball strategy in the second innings saw him out for 6. They will be trying to stop his incredible progress.

Team news

What will Acme Pakistan Selection Generator come up this week? After Haris Rauf’s injury, they decided not to add an experienced seamer to their 17-man squad. However, they could still make up to four changes to the attack. Due to a sore left shoulder, Naseem is a major doubt. Mohammad Nawaz, a spin-bowling option that can add depth to the batting, seems likely to be back. Allrounder Faheem Aashraf could also be picked. Mohammad Wasim Jr and Abrar Ahmad could be Pakistan’s fifth or sixth debutants in the series.

Pakistan (possible): 1 Imam-ul-Haq, 2 Abdullah Shafique, 3 Azhar Ali, 4 Babar Azam (capt), 5 Saud Shakeel, 6 Mohammad Rizwan (wk), 7 Agha Salman/Faheem Ashraf, 8 Mohammad Nawaz, 9 Naseem Shah/Mohammad Wasim Jnr, 10 Mohammad Ali, 11 Abrar Ahmed/Zahid Mahmood

Stokes confirmed one change to England XI. This means that, barring another late bout, Ollie Pope will keep the gloves ahead a fit-again Ben Foakes. Wood will take over for the injured Livingstone.

England1 Zak Crawley; 2 Ben Duckett; 3 Ollie Pope (wk); 4 Joe Root; 5 Harry Brook; 6 Ben Stokes (capt); 7 Will Jacks; 8 Ollie Robinson; 9 Jack Leach; 10 Mark Wood and 11 James Anderson

Conditions and pitch

Multan has only seen seven first-class matches in 2018, with five of them ending in draws. According to statistics, Multan is the most batting friendly ground in the series. Mohammad Yousuf is Pakistan’s batting manager, who averaged 86.16 From four Test appearances in Multan in the 2000s, it is believed that the curator traveled up to Multan to speak with the curator. Whether or not this results in a more appealing surface for the hosts remains to be determined. Air pollution could also be a factor with the potential for morning fog to further limit the playing hours.

Stats and trivia

  • Multan has not hosted any Test since 2006 when Pakistan and West Indies played out an exciting draw.
  • The previous year, England had been the visitors. Pakistan won with 22 runs. Marcus Trescothick was England’s batting coach during this tour and scored 193 runs.
  • The 657 runs scored by England in Rawalpindi were the second-highest by a Pakistani visiting team. This was behind the 675 runs scored by India at the Multan Cricket stadium in 2004.
  • In 1994-95, Pakistan was the only country that managed to overcome a 1-0 deficit to win a three-match Test series against Zimbabwe.
  • Jack Leach requires two more wickets in Tests to reach 100.
  • Quotes

    “We have done comebacks before and were confident of doing it again. We made mistakes in Pindi and we need to reduce them.”
    Babar Azam Make issues a rallying call

    “Regardless of whether we bowl or bat first, we will still be playing the same style. If we bat first, we’ll push the run rate and move as fast as possible. I don’t think there will be much difference in how we approach batting first. [Rawalpindi] With the ball.”
    Ben Stokes Promises more of the same

    Alan Gardner is a deputy Editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick

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    Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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