England win toss, elect to bat against Pakistan
England won the toss and will bat first against Pakistan in the first Test of a two-match series at Lord’s on Thursday.
PakistanAzhar Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Haris Sohail. Asad Shafiq, babar Azam, Sarfraz Ahmed (c), Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Abbas.
AN Cook, MD Stoneman, JE Root (c), DJ Malan, JM Bairstow, BA Stokes, JC Buttler, DM Bess, SCJ Broad, JM Anderson, MA Wood.
For seven members of the touring Pakistan side, today’s opening fixture will be the first time they have played a match at the ´home of cricket´. Mohammad Amir, wicket-keeper captain Sarfraz and batsmen Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq have all played at the London headquarters of Marylebone Cricket Club.
For at least seven members of the touring Pakistan side, today’s opening fixture will be the first time they have played a match at the ´home of cricket´. Mohammad Amir, wicket-keeper captain Sarfraz and batsmen Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq have all played at the London headquarters of Marylebone Cricket Club.
Speaking to reporters at Lord´s on Wednesday, a confident Sarfraz said he wants the side´s quartet of senior players to help take the pressure off the rest of the team.
“Yes, the senior players in the team have to show responsibility,” he said. “We have to lead from the front, we have more responsibility to give a good platform so that the new players take it from there.”
Pakistan, seventh in the Test rankings, come into this game on the back of a five-wicket win over Test debutants in Ireland, where the conditions were similar to those they could face at Lord´s if confronted with a typical early-season English pitch offering seam movement and some overcast skies.
“As a team we have more confidence because that was our first big match,” said Sarfraz. “The way new players put up a good performance that helped us gain confidence.”
One of those new players was Test debutant Imam-ul-Haq. Some pundits attacked the 22-year-old left-hander´s inclusion in the tour squad on nepotism grounds given Imam is the nephew of Pakistan selection chief and former Test batsman Inzamam-ul-Haq.
But Imam has answered his critics with three fifties to date this tour, including a match-clinching 74 not out on the last day against Ireland that rescued Pakistan from the depths of 14 for three.
Sarfraz said it was important Pakistan treated the match like any other and did not play the likes of England stalwarts Alastair Cook, Stuart Broad and James Anderson on their reputations.
“They (England) have experienced players but I have told my players not to get worried about that,” he explained. “Take it as a domestic match, the way you have got into the team after performing well in domestic matches, play without fear and play your best game.
“The worse will be that we lose this match, but this is a young team, seven of our players will be playing at Lord´s for the first time, so that in itself an honour.
“If these youngsters do well here and gain confidence then it will be good for their future and for the Pakistan team.”
Sarfraz, a key member of the Pakistan side that drew 2-2 in a four-Test series in England two years ago, accepted the hosts would be tough to beat on their own soil.
But he also said there was an opportunity for Pakistan given England failed to win any of their seven most recent Tests, in Australia and New Zealand.
A toothless bowling attack, brittle opening batting partnership and callow spin options leave England with much to prove in the home Tests against Pakistan.
Joe Root will lead out the side at Lord´s, desperate to put behind him a heavy Ashes defeat in Australia and a rare loss to New Zealand which have left England in a state of flux and fifth in the world Test rankings.
James Anderson, 35, and 31-year-old Stuart Broad are still the mainstays of a pace attack which struggled to make inroads in the Australian top order.
Although they have taken over 900 Test wickets between them, Anderson and Broad are nearing the end of their stellar careers and England need Mark Wood, their quickest bowler, Chris Woakes and Ben Stokes to shoulder more responsibility.
The spin bowling options are thin. Moeen Ali has been dropped after toiling in Australia where, shorn of confidence and unable to generate much turn, he never looked like taking many wickets.
Jack Leach played against New Zealand and looked promising but he was ruled out with a broken thumb and England have called up uncapped 20-year-old Dominic Bess.
Alastair Cook will open the batting in his 155th Test alongside Mark Stoneman, a partnership which failed to convince in Australia or New Zealand and has been retained largely due to a lack of viable alternatives.
Alastair Cook, Mark Stoneman, Joe Root (captain), Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow (wicketkeeper), Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes, Dominic Bess, Stuart Broad, James Anderson
Azhar Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Haris Sohail, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Sarfraz Ahmed (captain/wicketkeeper), Faheem Ashraf, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Abbas, Rahat Ali
Rod Tucker (AUS), Paul Reiffel (AUS)
Bruce Oxenford (AUS)
Jeff Crowe (NZL)
England win toss, elect to bat against Pakistan