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England vs Pakistan 2nd Test | Fantasy Cricket Preview | Pakistan look to go level at Southampton

England vs Pakistan 2nd Test | Fantasy Cricket Preview | Pakistan look to go level at Southampton

England vs Pakistan 2nd Test: The word is out there in the open. “Pakistan are as mercurial as a cricketing side can get”. They went from a position of strength to losing the first Test comfortably by 3 wickets. They had the English side pinned down but couldn’t close the first Test. A magnificent 139-run partnership between Jos Buttler & Chris Woakes put them one behind in the 3-match Test series. Shan Masood displayed grit & immaculate technique, the bowlers operated with plenty of venom but a session’s dominance from England’s middle order took the game away from the Azhar Ali-led legion.

The 277-run chase was the very first time in two decades England managed to chase a 250+ target at Manchester, making the defeat more bitter for the touring side. Could Azhar Ali have attacked more? Could he have used Shadab Khan as an attacking option in the fourth innings?

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The teams now move to Southampton for the remainder of the series. England will be without their talisman cricketer Ben Stokes who had to commute to New Zealand for family reasons. For Pakistan, skipper Azhar Ali’s form will be an area of concern. The right-hander has had trouble against the swinging/seaming delivery. His record in the last 5 overseas matches has been rather preposterous. In 10 innings, Ali averages 10 with the highest being a mediocre 39. Abid Ali received an absolute snorter in the 1st innings & fell to his own fallacy in the 2nd. Pakistan will need plenty of perseverance & fight from the top order. Can they pull off a shocker in the 2nd Test?

England managed to get over the line in the series opener but the home side did show signs of panic when they were put to the test. Ollie Pope stepped up yet again & if it was not for him & Buttler, England would have probably chased a steeper target.

MATCH DETAILS

Venue: The Rose Bowl, Southampton

Start Time: 3:30 PM, IST

TEAM NEWS

Zak Crawley might get a look in at number 3 with Root coming in at 2 drop. Chris Woakes’ fine effort with the bat also draws a case for Ben Foakes’ inclusion in the side with Buttler playing as a batsman. Dom Bess has quietly done his job but if England decide to go in with an all-pace bowling attack, Sam Curran/Mark Wood is likely to get a look.

Pakistan surprisingly look the more settled side of the two & are likely to feature the same XI. Shadab Khan wasn’t used as much in the last Test which livens the chances of including Imam-ul-Haq or Fawad Alam.

PLAYER TO WATCH OUT FOR

Babar Azam is hot property in the cricketing fraternity at the moment. The stylish right-hander looked in scintillating form in the first innings. The backfoot punch off James Anderson was not only the shot of the summer so far but also set the scene for the rest of the series. His impressive stroke play kicked-off discourses, yearning for his inclusion in the fab four. He’s an absolute treat to the eyes & at Southampton where the ball is bound to seam & swing, Babar’s technique will be put to the ultimate test. He’s scored some beautiful runs in the last two years & will be the player to watch out for.

The 25-year-old batter has scored 1449 runs in the last two years @ 63.00. In the last 10 innings, the average has further leapfrogged to 69.8. He’s got class, style & a lot of runs in him. Babar Azam will be a player to keep a keen eye on.

Azam has shown vulnerability against the deliveries moving away. Can England exploit his weakness?

Highest average in Tests since 2018
Player Runs Average
Marnus Labuschagne  1459 63.43
Babar Azam 1449 63.00
Steve Smith 1253 59.66
Virat Kohli 1972 53.29
Kane Williamson 1262 52.58

PROBABLE PLAYING XIs

England: Rory Burns, Dominic Sibley, Zak Crawley, Joe Root (c), Ollie Pope, Jos Buttler (wk), Chris Woakes, Dominic Bess, Jofra Archer/Mark Wood, Stuart Broad, James Anderson.

Pakistan: Shan Masood, Abid Ali, Azhar Ali (c), Babar Azam, Asad Shafiq, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Shadab Khan/Fawad Alam/Imam-ul-Haq, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Abbas, Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah.

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