Pakistan had a nervy start to their UK outing as they allowed a buoyant Irish side stage a comeback in the second innings of their inaugural test. Pakistan struggled to acclimatise with the cold as M Amir's longstanding knee injury flared up but the management is confident of his availability for the upcoming all-important Lords test against England this Thursday.
Sarfraz Ahmed has tasted a lot of success early in his stint as captain but a big innings is due especially if there is a batting collapse. His lukewarm performances have been masked by overall team success and partly by Champions Trophy win but relying on a past relic wouldn't be enough on upcoming tours and so Pakistan dearly needs him to fire with the bat and help Pakistan bring back the glory that came with Misbah holding the test mace after drawing test series with England back in 2016.
There is a void in our batting as well. A quick succession of wickets at the top order can expose the inexperienced lower middle order with Faheem Ashraf and Shadab Khan in their early days of Test career. Surviving against the swing and guile of James Anderson complemented by Stuart Broad's accuracy will present a far sterner challenge than Irish bowling attack. Mark Wood's comeback will further bolster England's pace attack.
Azhar Ali batting woes continue post-Champions Trophy. His frantic footwork in the first innings against Ireland could be a sign of desperation for finding some form. The weight of expectations after Misbahul Haq and Younis Khan retirements could be playing in his mind as well. A calm and collected Azhar, equipped with immaculate defense could help see off the new ball spells. He has scored heavily in England and that could motivate him to keep his head in the game.
Muhammad Abbas' accuracy and discipline in the corridor of uncertainty has been a treat to watch. He continues to improve his reputation as a reliable wicket-taking option. With Amir not really producing magic on a consistent basis and with his workload management issues, Abbas has effectively emerged as the leader of the bowling attack in just his 6th test and is already considered as the major threat by Englishmen.
Shadab Khan and Faheem Ashraf have had amazing success in their careers so far and they have proved to be great finds. Endowed with match-winning abilities, the duo helped Pakistan raise Champions trophy , made notable contributions in the second title win of Islamabad United and if they up their game at Lords then Pakistan bowling attack could befuddle England's batting lineup. Faheem's fighting knock of 83 against Ireland was reassuring for Pakistan selectors who have been on a long hunt for quality all-rounders.
Doubts hovered over Imam's ability to tackle tough bowling conditions and withstand pressure amidst controversy involving Imam's selection ahead of Fawad Alam whose selection remains one of century's biggest mystery. However, Imam is not responsible for that and a pressure knock against Ireland has renewed faith in openers setting a platform right at the top. Lastly, we hope our team produces some great memories, animated celebrations such as the famous push-ups and play a hard-fought test series in England's backyard.