England v Pakistan, 1st Test – Lords from 11:00 live on Sky Sports 2
Lord’s hosts the first Test of four to be played out between England and Pakistan. This is the first time the Pakistani’s have toured the UK for a full series since that infamous 2010 tour in which three of the visitor’s players were latterly found guilty of spot-fixing. Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif are no more – but left-arm quick Mohammad Amir is (apparently) a changed man – and no longer will fall foul of the pressures of being asked to bowl no-balls for cash. Either way, the talented youngster who is still only 24 will no doubt be the focus of attention come Thursday morning. England have a shocking record against Pakistan in recent times, losing five and drawing one Test played since that tainted 2010 summer.
The majority of the Test should be played out in warm-ish, muggy conditions, with some rain forecast for days three and five. The mercury might even hit 27c on Sunday afternoon.
Here’s a list of 1st innings scores over the past three years at Lord’s with the month the match was played –
2016 – 1st inns – 416 (ENG), 2nd inns – 288 (SL) – June
2015 – 1st inns – 566/8d (AUS), 2nd inns – 312 (ENG) – July
2015 – 1st inns – 389 (ENG), 2nd inns – 523 (NZ) – May
2014 – 1st inns – 295 (IND), 2nd inns – 319 (ENG) – July
2014 – 1st inns – 575 (ENG), 2nd inns – 453 (SL) – June
2013 – 1st inns – 361 (ENG), 2ns inns – 128 (AUS) – July
2013 – 1st inns – 232 (ENG), 2nd inns – 207 (NZ) – May
Batting in the 1st innings of the match in this period – Average 405
Batting in the 2nd innings of the match in this period – Average 318
NOTE – (we’ve ignored 3rd and 4th match innings for the purposes of this column which has been written for each sides 1st innings of the Test)
Form Guide & First Inns Runs
England have played 17 Tests since May 2015. Here are their 1st innings scores plus result in brackets –
416 (D), 498/9d (W), 298 (W), 342 (L), 323 (W), 629/6d (D), 303 (W), 306 (L), 242 (L), 528/9d (D), 149 (L), 391/9d (W), 281 (W), 312 (L), 430 (W), 350 (L), 389 (W) – Average 366
Pakistan have only played 8 Tests since January 2015 so let us include their last 5 from late 2014 to give their last 13 1st innings scores plus result in brackets –
234 (W), 378 (W), 523/8d (D), 215 (W), 138 (L), 417 (W), 557/8d (W), 332 (D), 351 (L), 403 (D), 566/3d (W) – Average 316
Cook (below) opens up with Nottinghamshire man Alex Hales. Hales might still be waiting for that first England Test ton, but comes into the match in fine form having scored 292 runs in the Sri Lanka series win. Nick Compton has been ejected from the squad and his likely replacement is Gary Ballance – groin niggle dependant – who was last seen in international colours on this ground last summer against the Australians. Joe Root lines up against the only side in Test cricket he’s played against that he doesn’t have a ton to his name whilst wicket-keeper bat Jonny Bairstow will be keen to keep on churning out the runs (387) he scored against Sri Lanka. Moeen Ali made a ton in that series but will need to significantly better his 2 wickets taken at 90 apiece. Jimmy Anderson and Ben Stokes are out injured so there will be a debutant on show supporting Stuart Broad, Chris Woakes and Steven Finn. Either Jake Ball or Toby Roland-Jones will get the nod as England’s latest seam bowling hope.
No fewer than five Pakistan batsmen scored centuries against England in the UAE last winter. Four of these survive, with Shoaib Malik the only retiree from last year’s 2-0 series win. Mohammad Hafeez (380 runs), Misbah (352, see below), Asad Shafiq (326) and Younis Khan (302) all punished Cook’s men last time out. Azhar Ali is the only batting survivor of that tarnished 2010 series, he only made 22 runs on this ground previously. Amir (above) returns to the scene of his crime, yet away from the no-ball bowling shenanigans, he actually took 6-84 in that Test match so clearly enjoys the venue. Fellow-left arm quick Wahab Riaz was the only other Lords 2010 survivor whilst spin will come from leggie Yasir Shah who has raced to 76 wickets from just 12 Tests.
Ones To Watch
Alistair Cook returns to lead England, fresh from passing 10,000 Test runs against Sri Lanka. The skipper made an 85 in that series, but will be keen to pass three-figures again having only done so once since May 2015. That one time he did pass a 100, he went on to register 263. The opposition? Pakistan, in Abu Dhabi back in October last year.
42 year-old Misbah-Ul-Haq has an important role to play as diplomat on this tour to the UK. After the mischief of Butt in 2010, the Pakistan skipper will be keen to ensure the series goes smoothly and that he leads by example. In 11 innings against England, Misbah has passed 50 on six occasions, averaging 48 on the way. He didn’t play in 2010, but if conditions get tough, expect Misbah to be the rock that holds Pakistan together.
If England bat first, I recommend backing any OVER RUNS around the 320-323 mark.
If Pakistan bat first, I recommend backing any OVER RUNS around the 275-277 mark.
Top Batsman Market
Gary Balance has played 8 innings at Lord’s and has scored a brace of centuries. The Zimbabwe-born number three averages 47.7 in Tests and will keen to show everyone he’s the right man to bat three for England. Back him at 8.0 to top score in the home sides first innings.
Asad Shafiq’s average of 44.8 in 6 Tests v England is good, but what’s more impressive is he averages more against Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. He’s an incredible 11.0 with some firms to top score in Pakistan’s first innings.
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