Tuesday, January 3, 2012

England will be put through a tough Pakistan test

England are the currently number 1 ranked test side and during the summer when Strauss’s troops were annihilating the Indians in a
whitewashed affair, many pundits were going as far as saying this was the
greatest English outfit of all time. The Poms have won all of their last 6 test
series whereas Pakistan have been undefeated for a streak of 6 series in a row
ever since the ill fated tour and largely forgettable tour of England in the
summer of 2010 under the leadership now of a 37 year old stable statesman who
has performed admirably and led by example to transform the respect, fortunes
and confidence of the unit in challenging circumstances after the listless
problems which had emerged. In between the period of time that the two sides
last locked horns, the tourists have contested in 12 tests with 8 victories and
only 1 defeat, including 3 comprehensive series victories whereas fairly
similarly the hosts have won 6 with only 1 narrow defeat in 12 contested,
including 4 series wins and 2 drawn series against the odds. Therefore there is
little doubt that both teams are on a rise and on a mission and in form with
settled outfits which sets up the picture positively for an intriguing battle
to commence 2012 in what could turn out to be a feisty and heated battle
considering the troublesome history associated with the 2 outfits when they
have toured each other’s territories in the recent past. One can expect plenty
of drama in this forthcoming 3 test affair with the first and last one being
held in the luxurious structure of Dubai with the one in between heading to Abu
Dhabi. This sure is the most high profile test series UAE has hosted.

Prediction

The series score line is most likely to read 1 something. 3-0, 2-1, 2-0 are highly unlikely on the placid tracks and it will be virtually close to impossible to go through the series without the
occurrence of a draw and a dull one at that too. We can expect a closely fought
series which will be an intriguing battle. The chances on a drawn series are
reasonably high, but both sides have the possibility of sneaking in a 1-0
success, probably more so England. The Pakistan batting line up has now
transformed into a steady and reliable one who can regularly go through the
processes and maintain a sense of determination and character even against the
best in the business of Morkel and Steyn. Therefore if the bowlers perform and
give the Englishmen some trouble it could turn out to be a series win for the
hosts. Their bowlers vs the visiting batsmen will probably be where the series
will be decided, but the fielding must support the bowlers. Pakistan will be
relying mainly on spin when it comes to the bowling in the form of Ajmal,
Rehman and Hafeez.

Proportional Verdict

32%= 1-0 England
28%= 1-0 Pakistan
20%= 1-1 DRAW
20%= 0-0 DRAW

Last 5 test series between the two all in the 21st
Century

3-1 (4) 2010 to England at home
3-0 (4) 2006 to England at home
2-0 (3) 2005 to Pakistan at home
1-1 (2) 2001 in England at home
1-0 (3) 2000 to England away

England's Test Record Against Pakistan Away From Home

Played 24: Won 2 Lost 4 Drawn 18

England's Test Record Against Pakistan At Home

Played 47: Won 20 Lost 9 Drawn 18

Never have they played on neutral territory before.

Stats

Misbah has never played a test or ODI against England,
but has played against them at the “A” team level.

Misbah would have captained in 15 tests in a row by
the end of the series. This is a record only bettered by Waqar, Miandad,
Inzamam and Imran Khan.

Misbah has the highest W/L ratio by a Pakistan test
captain of all time with 6.0 standing and if we merge formats he has a 12.0
standing with only 2 defeats in 31 internationals. This reference clearly
reflects how well the team are performing under his leadership and how
successful they have been since he has taken over with 12 series wins in 14
without any series loss.

Pakistan has been undefeated for 7 tests in a row
whereas England has been undefeated for 9 tests in a row. If Pakistan goes
undefeated in this series, they have gone the 2nd most test series
without a series loss streak in their country’s history after the 1980s era.

Strauss needs 5 more wins to equal
Michael Vaughan’s record for the most test victories as England captain. In
tests as captain against Pakistan he has only lost 1 in 8 and 2 series
victories in 2006 and 2010. The left handed opener has been preparing in India
ahead of this tour.

Strauss has led England in 10 test
series with only 1 defeat against the West Indies in 2009 away in his first
series as full time captain.

Both these two test playing nations
had the joint highest number of test victories in 2011 with 6, however Pakistan
played 2 more and had 1 defeat. Nevertheless England played 7 of their 8 on
home soil.

Cook and Trott in the England top 3
were ICC test player of the year and ICC player of the year and will be playing
their first test after achieving this tag in September.

Both these teams had 5 in the top 10
run getters in tests for 2011.

Both these teams had 5 in the top 10
wicket takers for tests in 2011.

In the last 5 times Pakistan have
played in the UAE, there have been 4 draws.

Overall record: 22-13 to England
having played 71.

Misbah's Record As Test Captain:
Played 12 Won 6 Lost 1 Drawn 5

Strauss's Record As Test Captain:
Played 39 Won 21 Lost 5 Drawn 13

Pakistan have 5 new faces in the top
6 from the starting 11 which faced England away at the summer of 2010 with
Azhar Ali being the only player who has managed to retain his spot with his
consistency and sturdy approach. Azhar has faced more deliveries than any other
Pakistan test batsmen in the last two years. Since England tour 2010, Pakistan
have only had 7 different batsmen in the top 6 over a period of 12 tests or 6
series whichever way you look at it.

In Younis and Misbah, Pakistan have 2 of their 5 highest Pakistan batsmen all
time currently in their team with their averages which are in the top 5 of all
time from Pakistan along with Miandad, Yousuf and Inzamam.

In both series which have been contested in the UAE under the captaincy of Misbah
- ul - Haq the batsman who has topped the averages or come 2nd with the willow
is Azhar Ali.

England was awarded the BBC team of
the year at the annual 2011 sports personality of the year ceremony on 22nd of December.

Azhar Ali made the highest score by a Pakistan
batsman on their tour of England in 2010 with an unbeaten 92 in a match winning
cause at the Oval. Azhar is the only Pakistan batsmen who has faced over 3000
deliveries since January 2010 and is Pakistan's highest run getter in that
period of time.

England have had 6 innings victories against major test forces in the last 14
months.

Pakistan’s average first innings
total in the 12 tests that Misbah has captained is 387. Previously in the 16
tests before the Faisalabad senior batsmen took over the reins the team’s
average first innings total was just 264 including an anomaly of 765 at Karachi
which was the only score of above 350 in those 16 test matches from 2009
onwards.

Under Misbah:
340 posted or more 11 times
Only been bowled out under 300 4 times
4 times chased down a total with 7 or more wickets in hand
4 times successfully drawn the match with 5 or more wickets in hand
declared the innings 3 times
won by an innings once


Most Runs Against England from Pakistan's side : Inzamam
Most Wickets Against England from Pakistan's side: Qadir
Most Runs against Pakistan from England's side: Gower
Most Wickets Against Pakistan From England's side: Botham
Most Catches Taken In Tests Between The Two: Miandad

How the series will be decided and unfold?

Both the line ups have in form and
settled batting line ups. For Pakistan the emphasis with the bat will be on
defence, survival, churning away, discipline, building partnerships, digging in
deep, getting stuck in and taking the innings duration in to the 130 over mark
and beyond as almost a bare minimum. Whilst they may not necessarily look to
dictate terms and take the game from the scruff off the neck, they can be
banked on to deliver the goods and bat Pakistan out of trouble. England’s
batting line up is full of capable run getters with a watchful and resilient
top 3 who like to absorb the pressure and overcome the initials bursts thrown
at them with a sense of authority, a dynamic dominator in KP who will not hold
back if he has the license to unleash his array of strokes, Morgan who can be
innovative, but has technical flaws and is somewhat of a nervous starter, Bell
who averaged over the 100 mark in 2011 with his delicate touches and
compactness and Prior who can score freely and attack with power and intensity
coming in at 7, someone who is labelled as the best wicket keeper batsmen going
and if that was not enough a tail who can wag and smash it around like no
tomorrow. I don’t see the considerably improved and reformed Pakistan batting
line up disappointing or faltering especially in the UAE tracks and therefore
feel the series will be determined as often is the case with Pakistan, by the
bowling against the opposition touring batsmen. Pakistan’s best hope will be to
either catch England below par as if they have got carried away after reaching
the pinnacle or simply outclass them with their varieties and nagging control.
England on the other hand, will be looking to pile up the runs and put the
Pakistanis under the pressure. Misbah has had a preference to insert the
opposition into bat with him winning the toss on 7 occasions and deciding to
bowl first 6 times with 5 comprehensive victories and one commendable draw; he
tries to bat only once or briefly 4th if and when necessary and it has been an effective
strategy adopted by the strategically astute leader. Strauss will not hold back
on getting the pads on and making first use of the docile tracks should he call
correctly. We could see Pakistan in the field first in all 3 tests, it’s a
possibility alright.

The Different Aspects - Who has the upper hand

Openers: England (Pakistan have
improved nevertheless)
Middle Order: Pakistan
Late Middle Order: England
Tail: England
New Ball Bowlers: England
Old Ball Bowlers: Pakistan
Spinner(s): Pakistan
Team composition: Pakistan as Hafeez
provides an additional quality bowling option
Pitch and conditions: Pakistan (no
brainer)
Preparation: Pakistan
Captaincy: Equal - experienced,
diplomatic , stable and statistically successful, but more will be expected
from Strauss
Team bonding: Equal - harmony, unity
and direction
Coach: England
Fielding: England
Statistics: Pakistan considering
Pakistan's record against them in Asian conditions

May The Best Team Win

Ball tampering accusations, pitch
dancing pirouettes, captain– umpire direct finger pointing along with loud
mouthy exchanges, Oval gate, spot fixing revelations, pre-match throat
grabbing, unacceptable chairmanship with baseless claims – it surely will be a minor
triumph for the sport in itself to see this series go through without catching
the wrong the side of the headlines. Both captains, in Strauss and Misbah are
no nonsense, educated, diplomatic, fully serious, thoroughly professional,
trouble free and respectable personalities so will definitely do their utmost
best to ensure things do not go out of bounds and the cricket can do the
talking and nothing else.

Where The Result Will Happen?

We are most likely to get a result in
Dubai, particularly in the 1st test as Pakistan managed to beat the Sri Lankans
here in the latter half of October inside 4 days and even the year before
against South Africa the test match was alive going into day 5 unlike in Abu
Dhabi where just 27 wickets fell in both the test matches held at the ground.
The team that may go on to down the other will always have the upper hand and
it will be difficult for the trailing side to get back in the series unless
they perform inspirationally or the winners of the 1st test begin to take the foot
off the gas. Therefore if there will be a result, it will happen in Dubai and
probably in the 1st of the 3 tests.

Starting Line Up

For the visitors they are unlikely to
go in with 5 front line bowlers and seemed to be satisfied with their 4 man
attack. For the hosts, the top 5 pick for themselves and the continuity and
stability in selection over the last 14 months has been one of their major
contributors towards their resurgence as a test unit. The dilemma starts at 6
with many fans and commentators pushing for the inclusion of the highly
exciting and attractive Umar Akmal from more of a tactical perspective as the
line up has been accused of being a tad one dimensional and there is too much
“sameness” if you like, however Asad Shafiq who recently made his maiden test
century in Chittagong has been performing better and therefore merits a place
in the side even though he is more of a conventional middle order batsmen.
Shafiq has every right to be retained as far as I’m concerned which will most
likely be the reality. Pakistan will be happy to negotiate and accept security
and rightly so with them being the underdogs and therefore the ability to hang
in there for longer innings will be crucial where Shafiq has the upper hand. In
regards to the bowling attack, it should be interesting if Misbah and Mohsin
decide to continue with their effective theme of 2 specialist spinners which I
feel they should do as they complement each other well. Gul will inevitably
make the final 11 as the spearhead of the attack. The 2nd seamer is debateable
with 3 candidates fighting for the spot in the form of Cheema, Junaid and
Wahab, but a left arm angle will provide that cutting edge with all those left
hander England possess. Junaid surprised one and all against the Lankans, however
he is just returning from injury and it may be a risk too far to send him in
the deep water immediately. Wahab has got the necessary clearance and claimed a
match winning 5 for on his debut at the Oval against England in August 2010.
However, this will lead to another problem potentially because both are the
same type, hit the deck hard at the start and reverse as the ball fades, both
can be inconsistent. Neither are really out and out conventional swing bowlers
with the new ball. In closing, Cheema has emerged promisingly as a genuine
wicket taker and worthy Trier, but his effectiveness may be limited and it may
turn out to be one-way traffic for England’s left handers with Gul also sending
them across the left handers. Misbah and Mohsin should take the added variety
into account which I’m sure they will do and make the bold changes as the
series progresses if the initial bowling attack does not live up to its hope.
It may be pointless alluding to this bit, but there are some out there who want
it, Pakistan needn’t worry about a 5th bowling option, Adnan’s batting is
decent, but not exceptional and they already have Hafeez who can turn his arm
over for several overs in a day as the extra bowler. Additionally, the depth in
batting is provided by Wahab and when contrasting with the strong England lower
order, the situation may not look too promising for the hosts, with both Wahab
and Rehman in the first choice 11 it may even up the balance.

My Line Up

Mohammad Hafeez
Taufeeq Umar
Azhar Ali
Younis Khan
Misbah ul Haq (C)
Asad Shafiq
Adnan Akmal (WK)
Abdur Rehman
Wahab Riaz or Junaid
Umar Gul
Saeed Ajmal

Predictions of Other KP Writers

Imy: 1-0 (either way BUT heart says
Pakistan)
Tabrez Ali: 0-0
Danish Nawab: 0-0
Maaz: 1-1
Zain: 1 -1
Babar: 1-0 Pakistan

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