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England backed to return to Test winning ways

Mohammad Amir sets off in celebration at another wicket Sportsfile/Getty Images

After a chastening winter in Australia and New Zealand, Joe Root's Test team reconvenes at Lord's this week, hoping to return to winning ways against an opponent that has got the better of them at crucial moments of the past two English seasons.

Pakistan are never more dangerous than when being under-estimated. They proved that in their last Test series in England in 2016, when they won handsomely at Lord's and The Oval to claim a 2-2 draw and the accolade of the No.1-ranked Test team in the world.

And they were at it again in white-ball cricket in the ICC Champions Trophy last summer, swiping the title from both England in the semi-finals, and their arch-rivals India in a glorious final at Lord's.

As such, they would seem to be a bit under-valued at 9/1 to claim the spoils in the upcoming two-Test series, especially against a team that was so visibly off the pace for the majority of the winter. England, by contrast, are strongly fancied at 4/11, a reflection of their traditional dominance in early-season Tests.

That favouritism is backed up by England's dominance in the Man of the Match stakes. Eight of their players are rated as better bets to claim the match award than any Pakistani - and Azhar Ali, the visitors' best bet at 12/1, has been in pretty terrible form at the start of this tour.

Joe Root, at 7/1, and Ben Stokes, 8/1, lead the way, but the more interesting price is lurking down the field. Jos Buttler hasn't yet had a chance this season to translate his white-ball ballistics to red-ball, but he seems criminally under-valued at 20/1. Especially when you consider what Mohammad Amir (16/1) is capable of doing to England's recently flaky top-order.