England vs Pakistan 2nd Test: After a remarkable victory at Manchester the Three Lions will gear up for the second Test match against the men in green, starting Thursday. The venue now shifts to the bio-bubble in The Rose Bowl, Southampton.
Despite dominating the first Test, Pakistan will be wondering how they came away from that opening Test empty-handed. A lot of questions are being asked about Azhar Ali’s leadership and if he could have been proactive. But one cannot ignore that they played significantly well in the major part of the game. So instead of being too critical, the key for Pakistan will be to find a way to stay mentally fresh. Perhaps one mistake was the bowlers not bowling enough short deliveries at Woakes when he came in because that this where other teams tend to target.
Pitching it up
Unlike the track at Manchester, which had an abrasive surface, the one at Southampton is expected to have a greenish tinge. The role of the pace attack of both sides is thereby expected to be bigger. This will again throw up the challenge to the Pakistan think tank of whether they will play Shadab Khan or prefer to add an extra batsman in the form of Fawad Alam. Sohail Khan, who was in good form during the practice games, is another option. However, what the likes of Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah need to be careful of is not to pitch the ball too full, something which they were guilty of in the first encounter.
Stokes’ absence a concern?
Stokes has been ruled out of the two matches at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton for family reasons and the England and Wales Cricket Board said he would shortly fly to New Zealand, the country of his birth. Sussex pacer Ollie Robinson has been added to the mix but the home team knows how big a difference he can make.
“He’s a massive part of our team and one of the best players in the world but family comes first and we’re supporting him with everything that is going on,” Sibley told reporters on Tuesday. Keeping England’s policy of rotation, Zak Crawley and Sam Curran are expected to start
Will Weather play spoilsport?
Grey skies and rain are expected to play a part over all five days of the Test. As per the latest weather reports, 23-24 pc chances of rain on three of the five days but is unlikely to affect play for long spells.
Head to head:
Played – 83
Won by England – 25
Won by Pakistan – 21
Draw – 37
Probable playing XI’s:
England – Rory Burns, Dominic Sibley, Joe Root (c), Zak Crawley, Ollie Pope, Jos Buttler (wk), Chris Woakes, Dominic Bess, Sam Curran, Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad
Pakistan – Shan Masood, Abid Ali, Azhar Ali (c), Babar Azam, Fawad Alam, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Sohail Khan, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Abbas, Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah
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