England’s one-day tour of South Africa hangs in the balance following the postponement of the series opener in Cape Town, with any further COVID cases in the home camp leading to a potential cancellation.
After the West Indies, Pakistan is all set to play a three-match Test series against England starting from 5 August.
Pakistan had already sent their 30-man squad to England and they are practising after completing quarantine.
After practising for over a month, Pakistan’s players would be used to the England conditions. Due to COVID-19 teams are sending the greater squad and this 30-man squad has some serious players in it, whereas England named an unchanged squad for the first Test.
What we have is that England has a decent bowling attack but fragile batting line-up whereas Pakistan has some exciting young guns in the bowling line-up who are not yet tested but also a slightly experienced batting line-up. So the real test will be of England’s batting and Pakistan’s bowling.
England has a weak top order with openers who have played less than 20 matches and then Zak Crawley at number three who has just played six matches. There are only two in the top six who played more than 20 matches so this inexperienced batting order is not dependable and we saw that in the first match against the West Indies.
If we look at Pakistan’s bowling, we can’t say that this is a match-winning attack. Mohammad Abbas is the leading bowler who has played just 18 matches, Shaheen has played eight, Sohail Khan has played nine and Naseem Shah is just four matches old.
All of the bowlers mentioned above are extremely talented bowlers. Abbas has the extremely unplayable swing, Sohail and Shaheen have seam and bounce and Naseem Shah with his fiery pace can rattle the opposition but the only thing that goes against them is they are inexperienced and are not tested properly.
Shaheen and Naseem haven’t toured England before. And Abbas and Sohail had played only two matches in England. That means they are almost new to the England tour.
Spinners might play an important role and Pakistan has the classic leggie Yasir Shah, who had troubled England batsmen during the tour in 2016. He could do a handy job for Pakistan.
As the England batting line-up is good but inexperienced and brittle – like Pakistan’s young bowling attack – this means the contest will be tough between England’s batting and Pakistan’s bowling.
England is also under the psychological pressure that Pakistan didn’t lose their last four series against them including two in England and Pakistan is the team in recent years who had troubled them in their home.
As for the contest between England’s batting and Pakistan’s bowling, I am rating Pakistan’s bowling slightly higher. The reason behind this is that the Pakistani team is practising there for over a month and they would have understood conditions and got used to them.
Also, they have a strong Test record where Pakistan won nine out of 16 matches in the last ten years, which means a 56.25 per cent win percentage.
So Pakistan’s bowling has the upper hand in this contest but it doesn’t mean that England will not fight. England will give a tough time to Pakistan as well and we’ll see some exciting matches during this tour.