The England team might have enjoyed with beers in the dressing room after the thrilling victory over Pakistan in the first test at Manchester, but going into the second tie that starts on Friday, certain issues need to be solved by Joe Root and company.
Let’s have a look at some of the major issues that England should look to address before the 2nd test on Friday, August 13 at Southampton:
1) Absence of Stokes, poor form of Root and middle order woes
All-rounder Ben Stokes did well with the bat in the preceding series against West Indies but could not get off to a good start in the first test against Pakistan. What comes as a worry for England now is that Stokes will miss out on the remainder of the series for family reasons.
An unbeaten 68 in the second innings of the 3rd test against West Indies last month is the only performance worth mentioning for skipper Joe Root after cricket resumed following months of no play due to COVID-19. Root could not perform well in the first test against Pakistan as well – he scored 56 runs in the two innings combined – and if England wants to score big , Root being one of the batsmen relied upon, has to improve his game.
With Stokes out and Root under performing, the question also falls on the middle order of the side. Pakistan has a formidable bowling attack and if they manage to scythe through the top order like the 1st test, it will all be upon the middle order to save the match. England will heavily rely on Ollie Pope, Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes who have been helpful but not consistent enough to trust.
2) Jofra Archer and James Anderson or Sam Curran and Mark Wood?
The pace department has to be looked into carefully by skipper Root. Stuart Broad was exceptional in the first test against Pakistan with 6 wickets, while Chris Woakes played a supporting role with 4 wickets. The problem lies in James Anderson and Jofra Archer as both were visibly frustrated in the game. While Archer could still scalp 4 wickets from the match, Anderson, who is just 10 wickets away from the 600 club, could manage only a solitary wicket. Root will have to make a tough decision on whether to bring in Sam Curran and Mark Wood or stick to Archer and Anderson for the 2nd test.
3) A more alert Buttler
Jos Buttler should be given the due credit for his match winning 75 in the first test against Pakistan but notice should be brought to the three chances he missed behind the wickets in the first innings. Infact, in the post match interview after winning the test, the wicketkeeper-batsman even admitted that had he grabbed those three chances, England would have won in a much easier manner. His glovework in test cricket has always been questionable, especially against spinners and ever since he returned to the test side in 2019, Buttler has not been in the greatest of form with the bat. He is averaging just 28.75 this year in test cricket. Hence, consistency is what Buttler should look for in the 2nd test and the games following that.
1st Match Overview
The first test match was initially in favour of Pakistan when England crumbled for 219 in response to the 326 made by the former with some spectacular play by Shan Masood (156) and Babar Azam (69). In the second innings, though, Pakistan could not take proper advantage of the already gifted lead of 107 runs and got bundled out for 169, leaving England with 277 to chase for victory. It looked impossible for England when they were struggling at 117 for 5, but a brilliant 139-run partnership between Chris Woakes and Jos Buttler saved the day for the Three Lions.