Aaqib Javed, Pakistan's bowling coach, has said the upcoming series against England will be a "clash of qualities", and the side with more depth and variation in its bowling, and with more confident batsmen, will stand the best chance. Pakistan, who've lost just one Test in 2011, play three Tests, four ODIs and three Twenty20 matches against England, starting January next year.
"It's not only about a match between a No. 1 team and a No. 5 team but it's a clash of qualities," Aaqib told ESPNcricinfo. "The team that has more options in the bowling unit, the variations and the batsmen with more confidence in the conditions will have the upper hand."
England will be playing their first Test series since climbing to the No. 1 spot in the Test rankings during their 4-0 whitewash of India. They arrive in the UAE a week before Pakistan.
"England have maintained a good combination with both bat and ball but pressure is obviously on them and that is the difference," Aaqib said. "I have learnt that they are working extra hard - their batsmen are in India, bowlers are training in South Africa and they are coming to the UAE four days before so I am impressed how hard they are training. You get the feeling they know it's not an easy series for them as well."
Aaqib has been involved in coaching in Pakistan for almost a decade now. He was with the national team on an on-and-off basis since 2009, first as bowling coach and then assistant coach, before he was removed from that position ahead of the tour of Zimbabwe this year. Now, back as bowling coach, he is working with Junaid Khan, the left-arm seamer, at the National Cricket Academy in Lahore.
"We have picked some outstanding bowlers against England. We've got two left-arm seamers, Wahab [Riaz and Junaid, two right armers, Umar [Gul] and Aizaz [Cheema] and three quality spinners - [Saeed] Ajmal, [Abdur] Rehman and [Mohammad] Hafeez. I think we have a dream combination and it's the world's best bowling attack.
"Though the pitches in the UAE are slower, we have bowlers who can last the time, like they did against Sri Lanka. We have bowlers who can bowl at 150-plus kph and can reverse-swing. That is another plus point for us."
England and Pakistan will be facing each other for the first time in a Test series since the spot-fixing controversy in July 2010. Aaqib said the team had moved on from that difficult phase. "Despite all the controversies, we coped well. We are confident and in a perfect winning flow," Aaqib said. "We don't talk even talk about it and are not bothered about it. Every individual is focussed on his responsibility."