England will lock horns with possibly their toughest opponent on home soil in the past decade or so in the form of Pakistan. The first Test of the three-match series will kickstart at the Emirates Old Trafford in Manchester.
After having lost the first Test of the summer against West Indies [by four wickets] at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton, the home side came roaring back to win the last two games at Old Trafford to not only win the series but also regain what turned out to be the last edition of the Wisden Trophy. One of the biggest gains for the home side in the recently concluded Test series against the West Indies was the emergence of a solid opening pair in the form of Rory Burns and Dom Sibley.
While Sibley posted 234 runs at an average of 46.80, Rory Burns racked up 226 runs at 45.8. Besides that, the duo also posted the first 100-run-stand by an English opening pair at home since 2016. Can they emulate their feats against an equally skillful but a more all-round Pakistan attack, is something that Joe Root and Chris Silverwood will be desperately hoping for. This series will also be a great test for the prodigiously talented Ollie Pope, who looked in sublime form in the last series.
England has retained the same squad that they had named for the 3rd Test against the West Indies but with Ben Stokes having assumed full fitness, regular batsman Zak Crawley should get a look-in for the series opener. The home side will once again bank on their fast bowling-unit led by Stuart Broad, who claimed 16 wickets in the last two Tests at Old Trafford.
Can Pakistan emulate their past heroics in England?
But, England will know that they have a task on their hands against a Pakistani side, which has traditionally punched above their weight in these conditions. Pakistan haven’t lost a Test series in England since 2010. They drew their last two rubbers- 2-2 in 2016 and 1-1 in 2018- and have easily been the best performing overseas team in English conditions for some time now.
Pakistan have won a total of 12 Tests in England but if we dig the stats a bit, we’ll find that 80 percent of those wins have come in London[istan]- Lord’s and the Oval- none of the Test matches are scheduled at these two venues this time. In fact, the last three victories for Pakistan in England have also come at Lord’s and Oval and while they have won at Old Trafford in the past , their last Test in Manchester resulted in them getting shellacked by 330 runs.
That said, Pakistan has a brilliant bowling attack in the form of Mohammad Abbas, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Naseem Shah, and Yasir Shah and possibly Shadab Khan [if they decide to play two spinners] which can put the English batting line-up under immense pressure. But, can their batsman consistently post in excess of 300 against the likes of Broad, Anderson, Woakes and Archer is a question that even the most loyal Pakistani fans will be wary about. Babar Azam has displayed his prodigious talent in South Africa and Australia, but can he do the same against the Dukes-laden English bowlers? Also, the form of skipper Azhar Ali, who struggled on his last tour to England and their opening duo of Shan Masood and Abid Ali will be the key. Pakistan will be hoping that
England vs Pakistan 2020, 1st Test- Weather Forecast
Although scattered showers are expected on the first day of the Test match, the weather isn’t that bad for the next four days in Manchester. According to weather forecast, the temperatures could fluctuate between 12-23 degree celsius, the humidity is set to be between 60-70 percent.