Advantages Strong Spinning team, good batsmen
Disadvantages Missing Shoaib Akhtar
When England last played in a test series in Pakistan the series was most famously remembered for the disgraceful confrontation between England captain Mike Gatting and local Test umpire Shakoor Rana. Whilst that incident had the positive development in the use of independent umpires it partly resulted in the temporary cessation of Test tours by England until this winter season. Other incidents also occurred and whilst the series was concluded largely according to the original schedule the fact that the England team was given a hardship bonus for playing in Pakistan was regarded by many in that country as a bit of an insult. Conditions are said to be much improved for the current touring party and I fervently hope that relations between the England and Pakistan teams are warm and encourage more frequent tours.The absence of tours means that none of the present England touring party has had any experience of the conditions on the Indian sub-continent which can have a significant bearing on the outcome. The Pakistani test team though is very strong and may be too strong for this England team. A significant factor here will be which team hits the ground running. It is only a three-match test series so there will be little time to recover from a bad start.
Pakistan will be captained by their wicket keeper Moin Khan. Moin is a very vocal captain perhaps best known for his interjections from behind the stumps. His ability as captain is untested but he will be ably supported in his duties by senior players like Wasim Akram and Inzamam-ul-Haq. Moin though is a capable batsman and may improve on his test average of 28 in this series. Much of his good batting ability comes from his reading of the spinners on turning wickets in the Indian sub-continent.Pakistan’s batting line-up is particularly strong. Saeed Anwar is one of the world’s best openers but doubts exist on his fitness. If he is fit further centuries look inevitable. Ijaz Ahmed is vastly experienced and possesses a huge array of shots. Vying with them for a place at the top of the order will be the latest teenage sensation Imran Nazir who at 19 already has a test century behind him.
Following these players at 4 or 5 will be Inzamam-ul-Haq who has now played over 100 test innings and has a batting average of over 45 in those innings. Put in context that is 5 runs average higher than Alec Stewart who has the best test average of the England touring party. Inzamam is a superb batsman who has got his runs against the best pace and spin attacks. England’s bowlers will hope to get him early because if he gets in one fears for the England bowlers.
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