England vs Pakistan – Edgbaston Test preview

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England vs Pakistan – Edgbaston Test preview
England inflicted a 354-run thumping on in the first of the current four-Test series, and with conditions again set to suit swing king James Anderson at Edgbaston, the tourists could be in for another tough time of it when play gets underway in the second Test tomorrow.
Anderson’s 11 wickets for the match in Nottingham crushed any chance Pakistan’s inexperienced batting line-up had of even making a fight of the match, as they were dismissed for just 80 in their second innings.
The immediate reaction of the powers that be was to send an SOS to former captain Mohammad Yousuf, who has answered the call of his country only months after being handed an indefinite ban by the PCB as a result of the role he is alleged to have played in Pakistan’s dismal and divisive 2009/10 tour of Australia, a punishment that prompted the batsman to announce his retirement from the game.
While there’s no doubt Yousuf’s experience would shore up Pakistan’s fragile batting line-up, there is doubt about whether the 35-year-old will be included in the XI for Edgbaston, with visa problems delaying his arrival in England until today – less than 24 hours before play is due to get underway.
For opener and captain Salman Butt, who scored one and eight at Trent Bridge, facing England was perhaps a reality check after facing what his averages say are the 25-year-old’s favourite bowling attack in their two “home” Tests against at Lord’s and Headingley. Test novices Azhar Ali and Umar Amin didn’t find the going any easier. Indeed, in two innings in Nottingham, none of the top five Pakistan batsman could even manage a score above 20 runs, with opener Imran Farhat’s 19 in the first innings their best offering.
Yes, Pakistan have a developing pace attack spearheaded by the prodigiously talented Mohammad Aamer, but even that was found wanting in the series opener as England exploited the conditions far better than the visitors.
The thing is, with or without Yousuf to take into consideration, England still seem too strong and too stable for Butt’s team as attention turns to Birmingham.
Anderson relishes English conditions, and with overcast weather predicted as the second Test begins, he’s sure to generate enough movement to again trouble the Pakistan batsmen. In Stuart Broad, England have their enforcer, a quick who seems to relish softening up opposition batsmen almost as much as claiming their wickets, while Steven Finn’s pace and bounce delivered from a great height rounds the attack out nicely.
And, if the seamers give Graeme Swann the chance to get stuck into the batsmen with his off-spinners, we all know what he can do.
And while Pakistan’s batsmen failed in the first Test, Eoin Morgan headed straight to the top of the class with a first-innings knock of 130 to prove he’s got the temperament needed to construct an innings in the five-day format in addition to the flair he’s displayed in limited-overs cricket.
If there’s any room for improvement in England’s deep batting line-up, then it’s Kevin Pietersen and Alastair Cook who need to step up here. KP hasn’t scored a Test century since last, and while England no longer need to rely on Pietersen as their match-winner, only a stray Australia fan (with an eye firmly focussed on the Ashes) at Edgbaston would be disappointed if the South African-born batsman demonstrated that capability still lay within.
Pietersen’s form worries aside, England should head into this match oozing confidence and with a stable and established line-up that should see the hosts move to a 2-0 series lead at its conclusion.



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