England named an unchanged XI for the first Test against Pakistan, with uncertainty over Ben Stokes’ fitness meaning Zak Crawley missed out once again.

Stokes has been battling back from a quad injury and will not be asked to take up his share of bowling duties despite a lengthy workout in the middle, playing predominantly as a specialist batsman.

That means a pace bowling quartet of James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Chris Woakes and Jofra Archer is retained, leaving Sam Curran and Mark Wood on the sidelines.

Pakistan captain Azhar Ali won the toss and opted to bat first, though England will take some encouragement from the dark clouds and early use of the floodlights.

On Stokes, England skipper Joe Root told BBC’s Radio’s Test Match Special: “With the weather we’ve had in the practice days he’s not had enough opportunity to fill himself with the confidence in his body.

“He will play as a batter but who knows throughout the week he might feel like he’s coming along and he might play some part with the ball but we felt it was too big a risk to play him as an all-rounder.”

Pakistan captain Azhar Ali, left, called correctly at the toss (Dan Mullan/PA)
Pakistan captain Azhar Ali, left, called correctly at the toss (Dan Mullan/PA)

Root confirmed he would have preferred to bat but was positive about the chance of getting early wickets.

He added: “We have something to work with, with the bowlers we have. They’ll be looking forward to bowling with these heavy skies and with the lights on. You want to win the toss but we’ve got to try and make the most of it.”


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