Pakistan took a somewhat surprising 1-0 lead in their series against England after Yasir Shah inspired the visitors to a magnificent 75-run win at Lord’s last week.
The teams will now turn their attention toward Old Trafford where the Pakistanis could earn a historic win – they’ve lost all nine of their previous Test series on English soil. A win in Manchester would ensure that the Asians, at the very least, will claim a series draw.
England vs Pakistan | 22 July – 26 July | Old Trafford | Manchester | England
To Win Match
England 9/10 | Draw 5/2 | Pakistan 28/10
The English were always slightly behind the Pakistanis throughout the game, and after being set a target of 283 to win in the fourth innings – a target only achieved once before at Test match level at Lord’s – the best that English players and fans could have realistically hoped for was a draw.
While the English batting left a lot to be desired – only Alistair Cook managed to surpass 50 in the match with his first innings knock of 81 – their bowling attack coped admirably in the absence of Jimmy Anderson. Stuart Broad claimed three wickets in each innings while Chris Woakes managed to bag an 11-for.
The Warwickshire paceman is quickly establishing as a vital cog in the English Test bowling machine after having played just nine matches so far. In those nine appearances, he’s claimed 27 wickets at an average of 28.22 – not bad reading for someone so new to this level of cricket. He’s handy with the bat too, averaging 32.44 at Test match level as well as laying claim to nine first-class centuries. To put that into perspective, Shan Masood who opens for the Pakistanis only averages 24.50 after eight matches.
Trevor Bayliss will be all too aware that his top order are going to need some form if they’re going overcome this dogged Pakistani side. Cook has looked decent enough this season, although he’s not the rock he used to be. Alex Hales seemed to battle a bit against Rahat Ali who claimed his wicket in both innings while Joe Root has been less than impressive since his all-conquering display against South Africa at the end of last year.
Looking ahead, the English are going to need to put in a much-improved performance in Manchester if they want to regain their footing in this four-match series. They’ll also be all too aware of the fact that the last match they lost at Old Trafford was against a Waqar Younis-led Pakistan side in 2001.
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While all eyes were on Mohammad Amir, it was Yasir Shah who stole the spotlight with a magnificent display of quality leg-spin bowling that tore through arguably the best Test batting line-up on the planet at the moment.
They got the series off the best possible start by winning the toss on a beautiful batting wicket and capitalised through Misbah-ul-Haq (114) and Asad Shafiq (73) who helped the visitors to a solid first innings score of 339. Mohammad Hafeez and Younis Khan also chipped in handily with 40 and 33 respectively while Sarfraz Ahmed also helped to contribute towards the substantial total with a handy 25.
While we can sing the batsmen’s’ praises all day long, it’s the Pakistani bowlers who deserve most of the plaudits for this win. While Mohammad Amir only claimed three wickets in the match, his probing lines and lengths caused the English batsmen plenty of problems. With a bit more luck and sharper catching in the cordon, he may well have claimed a few more. Wahab Riaz toiled admirably with some typically ferocious spells, but it was the spin duo of Rahat Ali and Yasir Shah who did most of the damage.
Shah, in particular, was magnificent claiming his first 10 wicket haul in Test cricket, effectively ending England’s chances of salvaging the unlikeliest of draws. He destroyed the entire English middle order with subtle changes and variations – keep an eye out for him in the next match.
Verdict: Draw 5/2
I tipped the draw in the last game and I’ll be tipping it again for this match. Pakistan are a much better side than these odds indicate, although I think that the English will show a bit more fight and technical nous this time around. I can’t separate them – draw offers great value at 5/2.
Value Bet: To be updated when betting is released
Written by Jason Dewey for @Hollywoodbets.