Updated: Nov 9, 2020
As Pakistan return to test cricket, they face a stern test against an in-form England side. But who are the players that can give the visitors a chance during the three-match Test series? Here are five to look out for.
A man reborn. After making a promising start to his international career, Masood was dropped from the Test side in 2016 after a lean series in England, where his technique was found wanting, particularly against James Anderson, who dismissed him twice in four innings and an additional four times in the winter series in the UAE. However, after working with freelance technical batting coach Gary Palmer, Masood adopted a more open stance with an emphasis on covering his stumps and playing straighter. He then earned a recall into the Test side after several impressive domestic displays and has since become a rock at the top for Pakistan. Since the start of 2018, he is averaging 44.6. The visitors will hope he can continue his good form and get his side off to good starts with the bat.
Undoubtedly Pakistan’s key batsman. Pleasing on the eye and possessing a solid technique, Babar has become his side’s go-to man when it comes to getting big scores. His Test career started off slow but in his last 15 matches, he has made 1375 runs at 65.5, with five centuries. He has already shown his quality against the likes of Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka and his latest challenge will be to lead the way with the bat in England against the hosts’ testing seam attack.
An attacking wicket-keeper batsman with impressive reflexes and an ability to take the attack to the opposition, Rizwan has taken over from long-standing servant Sarfaraz Ahmed behind the stumps. He showed glimpses of his talent with the bat in Australia last year, making 95 in the second innings of a losing cause at Brisbane. And at the age of 28, he may be about to hit his peak years. A talent who could flourish in England.
With metronomic accuracy and consistency to boot, Abbas is a key member of this Pakistan attack and it’s easy to see why. He has taken 75 wickets at just 20.76 in his short Test career so far, and those stats could have been even better were it not for a lean year in 2019 when he averaged 44.64 with the ball. He has had success before in England too, taking ten wickets at just 14.20 during the drawn two-match series back in 2018. Abbas may find similar success in a country renowned for offering plenty of assistance to seam bowling.
At just 20 years old, Afridi is already becoming Pakistan’s go-to man with the ball in all formats. In addition to generating sharp bounce from his 6ft 6in frame, he bowls good pace and has the ability to move the ball in either direction. He also offers a left-arm option and it is no surprise that he has already been compared to the great Wasim Akram. He was the only Pakistan bowler to leave his side’s abysmal tour of Australia last year with any credibility and is expected to cause England’s batsmen problems in more helpful conditions.