All to play for at Old Trafford

After a historic win at Lord’s, Pakistan have to turn their focus on the second Test at Old Trafford that begins today

Editorial July 21, 2016
Pakistan skipper Misbahul Haq. PHOTO: REUTERS

After a historic win at Lord’s, Pakistan have to turn their focus on the second Test at Old Trafford that begins today. The euphoria of Lord’s should surely spur Misbahul Haq’s side as they aim to take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the four-match series at a venue that should suit their style of play more than the hosts.

The Old Trafford pitch is like Lord’s expected to suit Pakistan bowlers especially leg-spinner Yasir Shah more than the English pacers who found the slow and low pitch at the headquarters of cricket, a tough ask. But the return of talisman fast-bowler James Anderson should surely be a source of immense relief for England captain Alastair Cook, the right-armer with 454 Test wickets is rated as arguably the best opening bowler in the game, alongside South African Dale Styen.

In 10 Tests against Pakistan, the 33-year-old has collected 45 wickets at frugal average of 17.06 per wicket. The two openers, Mohammad Hafeez and Shan Masood, will need to tighten up their game further after a largely spineless show at Lord’s.

Pakistan can’t realistically expect the middle-order to bail them out of trouble every time, Hafeez, Masood and Azhar Ali at number three have vital roles to play — they must play their shots vigilantly whenever an opportunity comes.

Other than the return of Anderson, England are still uncertain about their slow bowlers. Moeen Ali bowled well in the second innings but he failed with the bat in both innings, the off-spinner is likely to make way for leg-spinner Adil Rashid who took five wickets on debut against Pakistan last year.

The hosts are also likely to tinker with their batting line-up to accommodate Durham all-rounder Ben Stokes who has also recovered fully from an injury.

With Old Trafford also likely to provide spin and bounce, Pakistan have a golden chance of securing the series since a 2-0 lead will ensure that they don’t lose the four-match contest.

In Misbah, Pakistan possess a magnificent leader, who is on the cusp of a glorious triumph, we wish him and the team the very best.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2016.

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