Man of the Match: CR Woakes
Pakistan’s test to get over poor form overseas!
England to win and fall of 1st Wicket Over 26.5!
After all the delays and several of Pakistan’s players testing positive for Covid-19 and recovering, we are into the 1st Test Match of the three-match series against hosts England. The hosts would be confident after they made a spiriting come back from behind to win the Test series against the West Indies. Pakistan on its part would be looking to start off well in the series given the poor record they have had playing away from home in the last few years.
Going into this game the major problem for Pakistan would be its batting which hasn’t looked in good form in the practice games. With the ball expected to seam and swing, it will be important for the Pakistani batsmen to stand up to the challenge thrown at them. England on its part has its bases covered and their key players are in good form. With quality players on both sides, it is expected to be an exciting game which the fans will need to enjoy from their homes in these times of bio-secure Test Matches.
The weather has played cat and mouse so far in this English summer and the first day of the 1st Test Match between England and Pakistan saw only 49 overs being bowled with Pakistan finishing at respectable 139 for 2. The unbeaten 98 runs stand between Babar Azam and opener Shan Masood has undone the advantage that England had got picking Abid Ali and skipper Azhar Ali in quick succession. For England, Chris Woakes and Jofra Archer picked a wicket each. However, Joe Root would be upset having surrendered the initiative after having got those initial breakthroughs.
It’s still an open Test Match going into Day 2 with Pakistan’s best batsmen Azam looking rock solid. The team would want him to get a big hundred and expect the overnight pair to see through the 1st session on Day 2. Asad Shafiq, Mohammad Rizwan and Shadab Khan are handy with the bat and will need to play strong supporting acts. England would rely on Stuart Broad and James Anderson to work their magic in the morning as anything over 350 runs in the 1st innings would tilt the balance in Pakistan’s favour. Archer’s return to form is welcome news for England and he will look to exploit the conditions along with Woakes.
It was a day that belonged to Pakistan all the way. Shan Masood’s career-best 156 and late contributions from Shadab Khan took the side to a competitive total of 326. English bowling did well for most parts of the day other than allowing that 105-run 6th wicket stand between Masood and Khan. Stuart Broad finished with 3 for 54 and other bowlers also chipped in. Pakistanis put England into the dock with the new ball reducing England to 12 for 3 before the hosts recovered and finished at 92 for 4 with Ollie Pope and Jos Buttler at the crease with the former looking in great form. Shaheen Afridi and Mohammad Abbas are looking in great form at the moment which would increase the confidence in their camp.
Day 3 would be very important for England and they will need the pair of Pope and Buttler to get them out of the mess in the 1st session. They are the last dedicated batting pair for the side before the likes of Chris Woakes, Dominic Bess and Jofra Archer have a hit. The hosts would have to deny the visitors a big lead in the 1st innings. As for Pakistan, Abbas and Afridi will be their key bowlers and shall look to use the early morning conditions to their advantage. Yasir Shah is also looking good at the moment. Pakistan has the advantage of and would like to hold on to it.
To describe Day 2’s proceedings as fascinating would be an understatement. 14 wickets fell in the day while only 264 runs were scored. Resuming at 92 for 4, English batsmen struggled to finish be wrapped up for 219 runs giving Pakistan a lead of 107 runs. The hosts added 49 runs for last two wickets which may prove to be crucial in the match. Yasir Shah stood out with his 4-wicket haul. Pakistan failed to capitalize on the lead finishing the day on 137 for 8 stretching their lead to 244. None of their best could convert their starts and for England Stuart Broad, Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes shared the honours with the ball.
On Day 4 English bowlers would be looking to end the Pakistani innings quickly without too much of activity on the scoreboard. Anything above 300 runs would put psychological pressure on the hosts. It shouldn’t be a challenge given the batting talent the remaining three batsmen have. England’s top order would have its task cut out and one among the Top 4 – Rory Burns, Dominic Sibley, Joe Root and Ben Stokes will have to play a big hand. Pakistan will look at Yasir Shah, Mohammad Abbas and Shaheen Afridi to bowl them to a Test Match win. It is still anybody’s game from here but England has made a habit of losing the first Test Match of a series for the last couple of years and need to get over it. Pakistan might just be the happier dressing room ahead of Day 4.
Joe Root would be proud of the way his side made comeback against the West Indies to finish the series with a convincing 2-1 win. They played well in the last Test Match at the same venue and would be carrying that confidence in this game. Root would be looking for a good show from his middle order as they weren’t in their best form against the West Indies.
Rory Burns and Dominic Sibley form a strong batting pair at the top and both these players got runs in the last game. They will be looking to offer a similar start here. Joe Root and Ben Stokes are in great form in the middle and Ollie Pope too comes with runs behind his back. With Joss Buttler, Chris Woakes and Dominic Bess down the order, the side would be expecting good contributions from its lower middle order in this match.
James Anderson hasn’t had the best summer yet by his standards and shall look forward to doing well in this game. Stuart Broad did well in the last game and the pair will be looking to make Pakistan struggle with the new ball. Chris Woakes is also bowling at his best but the side will be looking for a better show from Jofra Archer who hasn’t looked at his best this summer so far.
Joe Root (c), Rory Burns, Dominic Sibley, Ben Stokes, Ollie Pope, Jos Buttler (wk), Chris Woakes, Dominic Bess, Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad, James Anderson
Joe Root, Jofra Archer, Ollie Pope, Stuart Broad, Jos Buttler, Dom Bess, James Anderson, Ben Stokes, Dom Sibley, CR Woakes, Rory Burns
Azhar Ali would have his task cut out as the side goes into the opening game of the series. They have lost the last six Test Matches they have played away from home and lost them by big margins. They are up against a side that looks in good form after their recent series win. It has been a long break for the side from this format and they will need to come up with their best game to win this one.
The side will need a good start from openers Shan Masood and Abid Ali. It is the English new ball attack that poses the biggest challenge for the side. In Babar Azam and Azhar Ali, they have two of their best batsmen to follow and they need to do well in this game. Down the order, the side will expect Sarfaraz Ahmed and Mohammad Rizwan to do well with the youngster going up in confidence.
It is their bowling which will have to stand up to the challenge posed by the English batting line-up. Shaheen Afridi and Mohammad Abbas will have to strike early with the new ball as England have been showing a bit of nerves at the top. Naseem Shah has shown a lot of promise and the side would trust him to trouble the Englishmen. Yasir Shah and Faheem Ashraf will be expected to support them well on this wicket.
Azhar Ali (c), Babar Azam, Shan Masood, Abid Ali, Mohammad Rizwan, Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk), Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Abbas, Yasir Shah, Naseem Shah
Shaheen Afridi, Yasir Shah, Asad Shafiq, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Rizwan, Babar Azam, Shan Masood, Abid Ali, Naseem Shah, Shadab Khan, Azhar Ali
|Hr||Temp||Rain||W. speed||W. direction||Clouds|
|00h||17||0 mm.||5.89 k/h||From: SSW||90%|
|03h||17||0.44 mm.||5.96 k/h||From: SSW||96%|
|06h||17||0.68 mm.||5.53 k/h||From: SSW||93%|
|09h||18||1.08 mm.||5.32 k/h||From: SSW||98%|
|12h||21||0.18 mm.||6.21 k/h||From: SSW||99%|
|15h||23||0.13 mm.||7.44 k/h||From: SSW||81%|
|18h||18||5.36 mm.||4.14 k/h||From: SSW||91%|
|21h||18||0.55 mm.||4.26 k/h||From: SSW||93%|
Weather at Manchester is expected to be great on all five days of the game starting August 05 though there would be odd clouds in the sky. The pitch would be a difficult one to bat on as the game progresses and early in the first session of the day. Once the batsmen get used to the pace and bounce they can score runs. The average 1st innings total is around the 330 run mark.
Batsmen looking to spend time on this surface do well. The track at Old Trafford, Manchester can be tricky as there is some assistance for the fast bowlers initially and they also do well with the old ball when conditions are overcast. Spinners do well at this venue from Day 3 onward when the pitch break up where they tend to get good turn and bounce.
In the last 10 games at this venue, the side batting first has gone on to win on nine occasions. The pitch is good to bat on in the first innings and the ball starts to trouble batsmen as the game progresses. Hence, both the captains aren’t likely to have much of hesitation in their minds as far as batting first is concerned.
It is the first game of the series and both the sides would be looking to get that perfect start. Pakistan has struggled in these conditions and has a habit of playing mindless cricket which they will need to guard against going into this game. England is match-ready at the moment and has already won a game at this venue against the West Indies. With a batting line-up in form and quality pace attack they would go into this game as favourites.
England to win and fall of 1st Wicket Over 26.5!