It’s natural. Everyone supports his home team and even against the odds, the support continues, albeit with some facts and figures.
Cricket is not a game of “ifs” and “buts” and “ifs and buts” in your attitude can be a barrier in the path to success. People having an attitude with “ifs and buts” in their life are mostly unsuccessful.
Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq is against “ifs and buts” and has a clear mind that he has to win against a top team to lay a claim on the best-ever Pakistan captain.
That in conditions difficult for the sub-continent teams, particularly while batting, will be tough but not impossible. But the resolve to do well in his first and last series in England will be the key.
When the England and Wales Cricket Board announced the itinerary for the Tests series, a lot of analysts noted that they have done a favour to Pakistan by scheduling the first at Lord’s and the fourth at The Oval – the two grounds which suit the visitors. That leaves Old Trafford and Edgbaston where Pakistan will have to thwart defeat if they want to win the series.
First to Lord’s, the headquarters of cricket and one of the most prestigious grounds. Why should Pakistan fancy their chances at this venue? Pakistan has lost four of the 13 Tests they have played against England (one they played against Australia, also in 2010). Their wins came in 1982, 1992 and 1996 while the last
Test here stigmatized Pakistan’s image due to that infamous spot-fixing scandal.
England will be without their spearhead James Anderson which leaves their bowling attack less potent, notwithstanding the motivation Stuart Broad has bring in to prove that the absence will not be telling. In Steven Finn and Toby Roland-James they have two bowlers who know the slopes at both ends very well as they play for the home team Middlesex. But apart from Broad, the attack looks less experienced when they come against a strong Pakistan batting line-up.
Broad has reservations over a slow and low Lord’s pitch which has produced four boring and high scoring draws for Middlesex in the current season. That will be in Pakistan’s favour although the pitch has good amount of grass on it.
Incidentally, Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq will be playing his maiden as well as last Test at the venue. He will have that extra motivation to make the double occasion more memorable.
Lord’s has been kind to teams winning the toss. From the infamous spot-fixing Test of 2010, England has played 12 Tests at the venue, with teams winning the toss and batting have won four of the five matches, with one drawn. On the other hand, teams winning the toss and fielding have lost four out of seven.
England has won the only time they won the toss and decided to field which was against the West Indies in 2012.
So win toss and bat first is the winning recipe at Lord’s. Although Misbah will keep his cards close to his chest; yet if he adopts an aggressive nature, win toss, bat and score around 400 it will put Pakistan in a strong position with leg-spinner Yasir Shah coming into the equation on the fourth and fifth day.
By the way, luck has been on Misbah’s team as he has won all six tosses in Pakistan’s as many last matches. That includes three against Alistair Cook in the last series played in UAE.
Pakistan will have to be at their defiant best in the next two Tests – Old Trafford and Trent Bridge.
Pakistan has won and lost one at Lancashire County home ground. They lost the 2006 Test inside three days through pace man Steve Harmison and spinner Monty Panesar’s demolishing acts.
Trent Bridge will also be tough as the ball swings more and with Anderson back it should be England’s game. Moreover Pakistan’s poor record at the venue, four defeats and three draws in seven outings, gives them little hope.
If Pakistan avoids defeat in one of the two Tests, second and third, then they can go and seal a series win at The Oval which will help spinners. With Zulfiqar Babar giving Yasir able support, the task can be accomplished. Pakistan has won three of the nine Tests at the Oval with their first coming in their inaugural series in England in 1954. England has won four against Pakistan at The Oval.
So fingers crossed, Pakistan have a bright chance of winning the Test series in England.