The Pakistan cricket team departed for England on Sunday. They are scheduled to play three Tests and as many T20 internationals against the hosts. The Pakistan squad of 20 players and 11 staff member left for Manchester and will then be transferred to Worcestershire where they will undergo a 14-day quarantine period before finally resuming practice. England will play West Indies in a Test series before taking on Pakistan.
However, it looks like Pakistan have already identified the areas to target against England. Pakistan captain Azhar Ali has revealed that his team are looking to attack England’s “fragile top-order” during the upcoming Test series. Ali said that Alastair Cook’s retirement has made the English top-order a little vulnerable and the visitors will be looking to exploit that weakness. The first Test will begin at Lord’s on July 30.
“Looking at their batting, their top-order has been fragile for some time since Alastair Cook retired. They have tried a lot of combinations lately and might be looking a bit more settled, but they haven’t been really confident with it. So there is something for us in it to look at,” Ali said before departing for England in a chartered flight earlier in the day.
Since Cook’s retirement in September 2018, England have used six different combinations at the top-order in their 18 Tests. Only Rory Burns seems to have secured his place.
The Pakistan skipper, however, is in awe of England bowling attack in their own conditions led by the likes of James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Jofra Archer.
“Their bowling attack is brilliant in their own conditions and there is no doubt about it,” Azhar said.
“Other than Jofra Archer we have faced all of them – Broad, Anderson, Woakes, Stokes and even Wood was there, but we have still won against them.”
An inexperienced fast bowling bowling line-up is looked upon as Pakistan’s weak link but Ali backed the likes of Naseem Shah and Shaheen Shah Afridi to excel in English conditions.
“In terms of number of games, of course England have tons of experience in their bowling. But we have the skills: they (our bowlers) are young and have a lot to offer.
“They can give trouble to any team in the world. In a very short time, they have achieved a lot and that is a good sign,” he said.
“You can’t buy experience immediately, and for that you obviously have to play more, but then we have a very experienced coaching staff with Waqar Younis and Mushtaq Ahmed. Their expertise and knowledge can be utilised and they will be helping them.”
Soon after landing in Manchester, the entire 20-member Pakistan will undergo a 14-day quarantine period.
All six games of the tour will be played behind closed doors in a ‘bio-secure environment’.