England’s two Test series against Pakistan starts next Thursday at Lords, followed by a test at Headingley
England have retained the bulk of the team that experienced a tough winter in Australia and New Zealand with a recall for Jos Buttler to bat at 7 and a potential debut for spinner Dom Bess. With home advantage undeniable in Test cricket England will go off favourites to return to form.
Pakistan are of course a beatable proposition away from home especially in an English early season. Their strengths are in a couple of areas primarily fast bowling where Amir is complemented by Abbas and Rahat and also spin.
That said, Yasir Shah their world class leg spinner was ruled out of the tour with a hip injury which has given an opportunity to Shadab Khan a 19 year old leg spinner.
Shadab is a big spinner of the ball (both ways) and was first seen during the 2016-17 PSL and all batsmen since have struggled to pick him. He developed in the U-19s before being picked up the PSL and was then selected for Pakistan’s limited overs tour of the West Indies, where in his first two T20s he took 7 wickets for 21 runs and won two man of the match awards
He balances the team too, batting as high as 7.
The Fragility of England top order witnessed now over 18 months, rescued by Bairstow, Ali, Stokes and the middle to late order makes considering Shadab in the Top Pakistani bowler market somewhat contrarian as we might expect the England top 4 to struggle against the Pakistani pace triumvirate.
However Amir is struggling with a knee problem which forced him off the field against Ireland, and has lost his way in the longer form of the game. Since his return from his five year ban the big wicket hauls on the back of late unplayable swing have not emerged. Rahat is a left arm swing bowler and the third seamer with 58 wickets in 20 tests
A bigger threat at the prices might be Mohammed Abbas, a late developer at 28 years old with 23 wickets in his first five tests before playing versus Ireland and taking 9-110 in the match.
In terms of conditions, it has been a dry hot May, pitch should be firm and batting conditions good. This should allow games to “go long” and bring the spinner into play.
Prices for the game are England 8/15 and the draw and Pakistan each 9/2. At the prices Pakistan are very interesting at 9/2 with atypical conditions. The batting order is a concern but their bowling ine up should cause England problems