NOTE : This article was written before the start of the match and thus, England's first innings performance is not taken into account.
Andrew Strauss is looking all set to bring his team the title “invincible” in test cricket. Although his in his first series as captain, against West Indies, the team succumbed to a 1-0 defeat away from home. However, after that, England never lost a test series, home or away, with the Ashes series at Australia deserving a mention, with Strauss joining Brearley and Sir Hutton as the only England captains to have won an Ashes series, both home and away. This streak of England is still continuing which has led to England becoming the number one side in test cricket.
What one might fail to notice is that this position in test cricket might end up becoming yet another illusion created by circumstances, like in the case of India. The last time England played in Asia (I'm not in a position to use the term sub-continent because the current series is going to take place in UAE) with the exception of Bangladesh was India, in 2008 where they lost the series 1-0. Teams from sub-continent have visited England which they won, even against the erstwhile number one side, India. This series streak of England and the number one status might have come just because of these circumstances and thus, the inference as of now is just, England is the number one side in playing test cricket at swinging and bouncy tracks.
The contest against Pakistan would be quite different. The Arab pitches support spin a lot and England's usual policy of having a bowling unit of three fast bowlers and a spinner might not work. They might have to sacrifice one of the fast bowlers for Panesar. Besides, the English batsmen have always struggled to play spin and the only ones who have a good record in Asia are Cook, Trott and Morgan and that too, the latter two haven't proved themselves in test cricket. Hence, England is very well placed and have to put in their heart and soul effort to win this series.
Only a victory in this series would justify England's tag – the best team in the world in test cricket. Otherwise, it would just imply that the present English team is not a replacement for Ponting's Australians of 2007 and the world of cricket is still in search of the “best team”.
Have a nice day.