Can England break their decade-long jinx? | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 05, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, August 05, 2020

Can England break their decade-long jinx?

If anything that history suggests, England will have their work cut out when they go in search of a first series win over Pakistan in a decade when the two sides get their three-Test contest underway with the first Test at Old Trafford today.

International cricket returns after the coronavirus break when England took on West Indies in a historic series last month and the series was a fine advertisement for Test cricket on its return; England bounced back to clinch the series 2-1 against a spirited Jason Holder's side.

England are certainly going to face a tougher challenge. While England can point to recent series victories over most of their rivals, their last such success against Pakistan was back in 2010 -- a campaign overshadowed by a 'spot-fixing' scandal.

Pakistan will also boast confidence from the fact that since the series in 2010, the two series that Pakistan played in England -- in 2016 and 2018 -- ended in draws.

However, to Pakistan's disadvantage, they will be going into the first Test on the back of just a couple of intra-squad warm-up fixtures -- that too after completing a 14-day mandatory quarantine following their arrival in the country in late June -- compared to an English side that have already played and won a three-match series against West Indies 2-1 last month. But the fact that England have lost the first Test in eight of their last 10 series -- including their last series against West Indies -- is sure to be an encouragement for the tourists ahead of the first Test today.

Nervousness could however also get the better of the Pakistan side just as head coach Misbah-ul-Haq suggested on Monday.

"We've had good preparations and team bonding. Still we feel there is always a slight nervousness when you just play Test cricket after a long, long time (away)," Misbah added ahead of his side's first Test in six months.

Pakistan have eight quicks in their 20-man squad for the series -- understandable from the success that Pakistani pacers have had over the years playing in English conditions.

Meanwhile, England will have to decide if they will stick with four quicks as they did during their 269-run win against West Indies last week as Ben Stokes played as a specialist batsman due to a quad injury that restricted the all-rounder from bowling.

Good news for the hosts is that the star all-rounder was, however, reported to have bowled with good pace in the nets on Monday.


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