England v Pakistan, 2nd npower Test, Edgbaston August 5, 2010

Brittle Pakistan need to show fight

The Preview by Andrew McGlashan

Match facts

August 6, 2010, Edgbaston
Start time 11.00 (1000GMT)

Big picture

England couldn't really have hoped for a better start to the series after their massive 354-run victory at Trent Bridge, but one thing that Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower have become good at is keeping the players' feet firmly on the ground. All logic would suggest the gap between the teams is so vast that a turnaround is unthinkable, yet logic tends to go out the window when Pakistan are involved.

They have already shown their ability to bounce back from defeat when they levelled the series against Australia and any side with the fast-bowling skills of Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Asif and Umar Gul can never be underestimated. That trio caused England a heap of problems at Trent Bridge, but at crucial times they were let down in the field and were given precious little back-up by Danish Kaneria, who suffered a shocking match.

Kaneria has been shipped back to county cricket (although can't play for Essex until he is re-registered) and the chief villain in the field - wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal - has been replaced by the uncapped Zulqarnain Haider but Pakistan's major problem is their batting. Despite the insistence of Salman Butt that he would back youth it was only a matter of time before an SOS went out for reinforcements and Mohammad Yousuf has duly been drafted into the squad.

After a race against time to reach Birmingham, Yousuf had been considered for a comeback in the second Test but ruled himself out through tiredness, leaving the way open for a recall for Yasir Hameed. It is debatable whether one man who has barely played cricket of late - regardless of his undoubted class - could have revived Pakistan on his own, and it may even have been a backward step for the team, as Yousuf's return could have revived memories of the terrible Australia tour which began Pakistan's latest crisis.

England are in bullish mood, and rightly so, with little concern over which players they face this week. The bowling was impressive in the opening match - led by James Anderson's career-best 11 wickets - while Eoin Morgan and Matt Prior delivered fine centuries under pressure. There are concerns over Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen, who both need runs, but they are minor problems compared to Pakistan's.

Form guide (last five completed matches)

England WWWWW
Pakistan LWLLL

Watch out for...

Most of the talk surrounding England's batting hasn't been about the century-makers, but rather Kevin Pietersen's form. Yet, Alastair Cook shouldn't escape the spotlight after three disappointing Tests this season. He may have been captain five months ago, but the race for England batting spots is so intense that nobody can afford a barren run. In fairness it was a tough Test for top-order batsmen at Trent Bridge, but the concern was the ease with which Cook was predictably worked over by Asif and Amir. He showed in South Africa that he can combat top-quality pace bowling but he's at that stage again where he needs a few runs.

Mohammad Asif had the ball on a string for most of the first Test until England pulled away in the second innings. His languid, almost lazy run-up, doesn't hint at the threat he poses once he lets the ball go and even though he rarely exceeds 80mph his late movement can leave batsmen in knots. It is, therefore, soul-destroying to see chances go begging and then watch his own batsmen throw their wickets away. But Asif will keep running in and he, along with Amir, remain Pakistan's best chance of getting back onto the series

Team news

Barring late injuries England won't make any changes, especially after such a comprehensive victory. Graeme Swann should expect some more work in this Test, but he has said he won't mind another Test standing at second slip.

England (probable) 1 Andrew Strauss (capt), 2 Alastair Cook, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Kevin Pietersen, 5 Paul Collingwood, 6 Eoin Morgan, 7 Matt Prior (wk), 8 Graeme Swann, 9 Stuart Broad, 10 James Anderson, 11 Steven Finn

Yousuf made it to Birmingham in time but thanks to his jet-lag and general lack of match practice, Umar Amin keeps his place, although there may be a temptation to move Shoaib Malik up the order. Kamran Akmal has been dropped, with his deputy Zulqarnain Haider coming in to make his Test debut, while offspinner Saeed Ajmal will replace Kaneria and will have a vital role in easing the workload on the quick bowlers.

Pakistan (probable) 1 Salman Butt (capt), 2 Imran Farhat, 3 Azhar Ali, 4 Umar Amin, 5 Umar Akmal, 6 Shoaib Malik, 7 Zulqarnain Haider (wk), 8 Mohammad Amir, 9 Umar Gul, 10 Saeed Ajmal, 11 Mohammad Asif

Pitch and conditions

There has been some rain around Birmingham in the build-up to the Test and the forecast suggests further showers can be expected at various stages during the game. Cloudy skies will keep the swing bowlers happy and Stuart Broad recently showed what was on offer in the surface with 8 for 52 playing for Nottinghamshire against Warwickshire. However, if batsmen get in at Edgbaston runs can also flow quickly. It should be another fast-moving game.

Stats and Trivia

  • The first Test provided only the third occasion in history when all the top scores came from No. 6 and below in the order.

  • England and Pakistan have met six times at Edgbaston and the visitors have never won here. The last occasion was in 1992 in what became a rain-ruined and bat-dominated draw.

  • James Anderson, fresh from his 11-wicket haul, will play his 50th Test.


"We all go through it, you're not human if you don't go through a poor run of form at some time, but players of the quality of KP always come back and he will."
Andrew Strauss has no concerns about Kevin Pietersen's form

"Everybody knows that this is the type of show that has been coming out of Pakistan previously as well as recently. This is something that can change."
Despite the disorder currently surrounding the team, Salman Butt is hopeful that the future will be more settled for Pakistan

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Usman on August 6, 2010, 12:29 GMT

    Disgrace......PCB is just a disgrace to world cricket.....

    1. Yasir Hameed (wk) 2. Imran Nazir 3. Younis Khan 4. Mohammed Yousuf 5. Asim Kamal 6. Abdul Razzaq 7. Fawad Alam 8. Mohammed Aamer 9. Umar Gul 10. Saeed Ajmal 11. Mohammed Asif

    Perfect test line up - Nazir = Aggression / Hameed = Intricate and classy

  • Muhammad on August 6, 2010, 12:07 GMT

    I Challenge this Pakistani team to beat my town's under 10 cricket team!!!

  • Dummy4 on August 6, 2010, 10:04 GMT

    Wat the heck is Wasif on about??? Azhar Ali??? Wat about Umar Amin, Azhar Ali has faced 3 times more balls than Umar Amin has faced in the same amount of innings... Its Umer Amin who shud b given rest/BUT not dropped...

  • Matthew on August 6, 2010, 9:46 GMT

    What on earth has happened to Fawad Alam (age 24 Test avg 41 with 168 on debut v SL) ? He has showed much more promise than Umar Amin (avg 10). A good lineup would look like this: 1.Farhat/Alam 2.Butt 3.Malik/Hameed 4.Yousuf 5.Malik/Ali 6.U Akmal/Alam 7.Haider 8.Aamer 9.Gul 10.Ajmal 11.Asif

  • Aamir on August 6, 2010, 9:20 GMT

    I think both the Akmals should be Axed. The younger one needs to show some respect towards Cricket and learn to play according to the situation. Including Umar Amin and Azhar Ali was another stupidity from team management, I would not have two test debutants at the key batting positions - they should have promoted Shoaib Malik up the order and Umar Amin later on-- I am also unable to understand why Abdul Razzaq is not being considered for Test Match. He is a Solid Batsman and can play at any number.

  • waqas on August 6, 2010, 7:43 GMT

    I think they should give more chances to umar amin, hes got technique

    (azhar ali got some runs but hiss technique is not that good)

  • Adnan on August 6, 2010, 6:35 GMT

    Jaki, you are talking about Pakistani team, being inform isn't a criteria to be in playing eleven, its just how much you are close to 2 BUTTS hahahah

  • Dummy4 on August 6, 2010, 4:34 GMT

    I cant believe there are suggestions of moving Shoaib Malik up the order who doesnt deserve to be in the team in the first place. Also I cant understand all this criticism of "youngsters" and why that isnt such a good policy. I think our main concern arent the youngsters but those who are HIDING BEHIND THE YOUNGSTERS!!! Shoaib Malik and the Akmal brothers have all been hiding behind them. When it comes to youngsters I dont think Azhar Ali and Umar Amin are the main villains. Whatsmore, our trump card and the one to trigger fear in every batsman on this tour is another "youngster" called Mohammad Amir. So really its time we stopped criticizing the youngsters and focussed on removing the actual villains from the side. Even Yousuf's return is unlikely to rankle anyone but Shoaib Malik, and I wouldnt even put it past him to start plotting against the obviosuly talented Salman Butt. Lastly, I think its good Yousuf not playing straightaway and just wish they would replace Malik with Yasir

  • Farhan on August 6, 2010, 4:24 GMT

    Why is Yasir Hameed not in the team? He has class and experience and has been performing better than these wannabes.

    Also Fawad Alam is a natural test cricketer (compare first-class averages of Umar Amin, Azhar and Alam) and he should be with the squad.

  • Ikram on August 6, 2010, 1:05 GMT

    I think they should bring younis khan back as well..younis and yousuf both very good player in test and avg good..n wud be very good for pak team..if they dun fite within themselves..!!

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