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Pakistan vs England – Can Struggling Sides Find Their Groove?

While England are desperate to move on after a year of stagnancy, Pakistan are trying to find their groove back after slipping down the radar since retirements of Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan. How much will they succeed in their aims only time will tell? 

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The first day of the English summer was quite happening as Pakistan bowlers bowled England out only for 184 runs. In reply, Pakistan ended the day at 50-1. While this was quite expected with the lineup both sides have, yet the fans of both the teams are quite optimistic about their chances.

England’s limited overs team is leading the World Cricket with its brand of cricket, same can’t be said about the Test side which has been struggling quite miserably in past 18 months. Since the tour of India way back in November 2016 till May2018, England’s brand of Test Cricket has not justified the fan following which the team posses.

While the leader have been changed so as the batting line up but the team has failed to find answer to its struggles. A brittle batting order where multiple changes have been done during the period still seems unsettled. Mark Stoneman and David Malan’s places are up for the grabs. Alistair Cook and Joe Root seem to be overburdened and need assistance from youngsters.

On the first day, England’s brittle order was exposed when they were skittled for a paltry score, and even their all-rounders couldn’t save them. Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow have been important figures who have bailed them out on a number of occasions in recent times but their is limitation to it. Joss Butler also failed on the return, in such times the question arises on England’s decision to play with only four batsmen of which two are struggling.

The bowling has been less cause of concern, but England have failed to find a third seamer and a proper spinner to take wickets. Mark Wood and Chris Woakes have failed to provide able support to James Anderson and Stuart Broad. In the spin department, Mooen Ali have been out of form after a horrible summer with the ball down under while Jack Leach did impress on debut but got injured before he could answer team’s long-term puzzle of England’s spin conundrum.

20-year-old Dominic Bess who has impressed in the county circuit by picking 63 wickets in 16 matches at an average of just 22.49 is an unknown quality. Ed Smith picked Somerset’s off-spinner hoping that he could solve one of the riddle in multiple holes in this English side.

Pakistan, on the other hand, have just begun their life without Misbah and Younis. Since their retirements they have played only 2 tests in 12 months against Sri Lanka and Ireland respectively.  The next 12 months are quite crucial for the green caps as they are scheduled to play 11 tests.

The first day at Lords was promising but as we all know its hard to predict the most unpredictable side in World especially in the batting. Youngsters like Imam-ul-Haq, Haris Sohail and Babar Azam need to assure that they are the long-term prospects. Its very important that seniors like Asad Shafiq, Azhar Ali and Sarfaraz Ahmed must act as an able guide and lead these freshers during this tough tour and as well as upcoming challenge.

The bowling unit looks more settled with likes of Mohammad Abbas and Hasan Ali giving strong support to Mohammad Amir. However, Amir’s own talk of cutting down the burden of international cricket to prolong his career along with his fragile knee has been area of concern. Faheem Ashraf has been included with an aim to search for an allrounder which Pakistan has missed since Abdur Razzaq. Shadab Khan’s flair is also desperately needed in the absence of ever reliable Yasir Shah.

Both these young sides will go under severe scrutiny of media, fans, and experts in upcoming weeks. The question is which one of the two will emerge as the winner not in term of this series but for long-term prospects.

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