If the opening Test between England and Pakistan in Manchester was anything to go by, we are in for a cracking series. England somehow won despite all odds firmly stacked against them and Pakistan, well were at their unpredictable best as they lost despite holding all the aces. The Ageas Bowl, in Southampton, will host the second Test and while England will be eager to close the series out, the visitors will be hoping to not repeat the same mistakes from Manchester.
HEAD TO HEAD
Overall - Matches 84 | England 26 | Pakistan 21 | Draw 37
Last five Tests - England 3 | Pakistan 2
Last five Tests in England – England 3 | Pakistan 2
While you could go for the above team, or pick your own team, cricket.com's Fantasy Research Centre based on algorithms have come up with six different teams that could help you fetch crucial points.
Southampton has been a busy venue in the last month or so having hosted three ODIs and one Test. The surface here has been a sporting one having something in it for both batsmen and bowlers.
In two Tests played here, since the start of 2018, bowlers have returned a wicket every 53.1 balls with batsmen accumulating 26.4 runs per wicket, both relatively middling numbers when compared to the rest of the venues in England.
However, there is no denying that bowlers are the strengths of both Pakistan and England, and you should bank on them to get you maximum points.
While pace has been the dominant entity in Tests at Southampton over the last 2 years, spinners haven’t done too badly either.
In Tests since January 2018, fast bowlers have picked up 58 wickets here every 52.5 balls while tweakers have returned 16 wickets striking every 61.8 deliveries.
Pakistan might have lost the opening Test, but Yasir Shah’s performance who returned match figures 8-165 would have given them hope. The leg-spinner should make it to your team so should the likes of Mohammad Abbas, Stuart Broad and Naseem Shah. With Ben Stokes out of the rest of the series, there will be additional pressure on allrounder Chris Woakes, who did his bit to perfection in Manchester. Among the batsmen, you could go for Shan Masood, Joe Root, Ollie Pope and Babar Azam.
There could be a few interesting matchups too on display.
Shan Masood had a wretched series in 2016 but more than made up for it in Manchester scoring a stupendous century. But he still will have to be really wary of James Anderson, who will be amped up after question marks were raised against him after a poor show in the opening Test.
Similarly, Azhar Ali has been dismissed 6 times by Broad in Tests against whom he averages a mere 26.3.
First Test hero Jos Buttler too would want to stay clear of Yasir Shah who has dismissed him 3 times in 3 innings.
Is Chris Woakes the most underrated cricketer going around? The general consensus sure seems to suggest that and the numbers too back the claim. That Woakes isn’t a regular in the England playing eleven does come as a surprise considering since the start of 2015, for a minimum of 20 wickets, no other bowler has a better strike-rate in Tests in England than him. Another reason why you should make him your captain is Woakes’s record against Pakistan. In six Test matches, he has a batting average of 42.43 and a bowling average of 16.5 versus Pakistan. Woakes had a woeful time with the bat in 2020 before the opening Test but having gotten the confidence back with a match-winning 84* under his belt, the allrounder will want to continue his excellent run.
Our Criclytics Player Projection says Woakes will score 31 to 46 runs and pick 5-7 wickets in the 2nd Test.
He has already proven his mettle in white-ball cricket and now Babar Azam is showing his prowess in the longest format of the game as well. Easily Pakistan’s best batsman in Tests over the course of 2 years, Babar has scored 1449 runs in 28 innings since the start of 2018 averaging a strong 63. The vice-captain of the Test side, Babar gave a good account of himself in Manchester scoring a fluent 69. He is in the form of his life and has four centuries and three half-centuries in his last nine Test innings. He would have been gutted to miss out in the second innings and would want to make up for it in Southampton.
Our Criclytics Player Projection says Babar will score 105-158 runs in the second Test.
Probably one of the most improved cricketers in the Pakistan team, Shan Masood had a wretched time in England in 2016 where he managed to score 71 runs across 4 innings. Not only did he double the tally in a single innings in Manchester, he has shown remarkable improvement in his technique too. Masood has been in excellent touch in the last one year. Since August 2019, the southpaw has scored 552 runs in 10 Test innings at an average of 55.2, comfortably better than his career average of 33.62. Masood has started off the series with a classy 156 in trying circumstances. It won’t be easy in Southampton, but Masood has shown he has the pedigree to survive and score in English conditions.
The Criclytics Player Projection has Masood scoring 114-171 runs in Southampton.
Stuart Broad wasn’t at his lethal best in the opening Test but still managed to return six wickets for the game. The most recent entrant to the 500-wicket club, the lanky pacer has been at the top of his game for a while now. No other bowler has more wickets than Broad’s 109 in Test since the start of 2018. His average of 23 is also pretty decent. Broad is one player who if he gets on a roll can single-handedly get you a lot of points. He could be the trump card for you as well as Root in Southampton.
Our Criclytics Player Projection says Broad will pick 7-9 wickets in the second Test.