Ed Hawkins previews game one of four with the Lord's contest possibly representing the tourists' best chance of victory from Thursday
"Broad has expressed concern that the wicket – which is yet to produce a result in four county matches this term – could be slow enough and low enough to make Pakistan believe they are playing in Dubai."
England v Pakistan
Thursday July 14, 11:00
TV: Live on Sky Sports
England have some re-jigging to do, one change forced the other of their own making. James Anderson, the leader of their pace attack, is out while Nick Compton has finally been put out of his misery.
Uncapped pacers Jake Ball and Toby Roland-Jones are vying for Anderson's spot. Common sense would dictate that Ball would come in as he has was named in squads for the Sri Lanka series.
Nottinghamshire man Ball is not as quick as Roland-Jones but his strength is accuracy. He will look to hit the top off fourth stump all day.
Gary Ballance will bat in the middle-order with Joe Root moving up to No 3. Ballance was one of the ten fastest to 1,000 Test runs but he lasted barely a year after a loss of confidence rooted him to the crease.
Most of the attention will be focussed on Mohammad Amir, who returns to scene of the crime. Amir was banned for match-fixing and served time in prison for bowling no-balls for money six years ago.
He took six wickets in an innings in that match and his potency as a left-arm paceman has never been in doubt. Alongside Wahab Riaz, another southpaw, they form a dangerous new-ball attack.
Imran Khan, a bustling strongman, will join them in the Chris Woakes role. He has a decent average of 28 and a healthy strike rate of 52. Rahat Ali and Sohail Khan are vying for another seamer spot.
The star is Yasir Shah. The leg-spinner is the best twirler in the world and he destroyed England in their last series meeting.
Misbah-ul-Haq, the captain, Younis Khan, Mohammed Hafeez, Azhar Ali and Sarfraz Ahmed have to battle against a justified Pakistan reputation of being vulnerable to seam and swing.
The first match-innings average in the last 12 Tests (five years) is 399. To say it is a good batting wicket is an understatement. Ordinarily England make hay while visitors struggle. Before Australia walloped England for 566 last summer and then bowled them out for 316, the home team's average was 423 compared to visitor sides' 282. England posted 416 against Sri Lanka last month and the tourists made 288 in reply.
England are [1.89], Pakistan are [4.6] and the draw is [3.9]. That could look a very good price indeed about England if they bat first and then repeat their average score for the ground.
But on a placid surface which has already been criticised by Stuart Broad, it could look a poor one if Pakistan knuckle down. The threat of Yasir in the fourth innings then looms large for the hosts.
Broad has expressed concern that the wicket - which is yet to produce a result in four county matches this term - could be slow enough and low enough to make Pakistan believe they are playing in Dubai.
If he is right then this probably represents Pakistan's best chance of victory. And they almost always pinch a win somewhere along the line when touring England, as per our series preview.
With England minus Anderson, a serious blow, and some doubts about their batting order we can be confident Pakistan are value if the flip goes their way. There is no rain forecast.
Top England runscorer
With an average of 61, Root has the best record of any Englishman on show at HQ. He is [4.0] jolly. Alastair Cook (44.8) is [4.6] with opening partner Alex Hales at [6.2]. Ballance, who has two tons there in four matches, is [8.0]. Jonny Bairstow is [7.0].
Top Pakistan runscorer
Younis is Pakistan's most experienced batsman in English conditions. Surprisingly Misbah has yet to play a Test in England. The senior men are [4.8] and [5.7] for honours. Younis has played only one Test at Lord's, scoring 58 and one way back in 2001. Azhar is [4.8].
We like Asad Shafiq, who is reliable and solid, at [9.0].
Back Pakistan if they bat first at [4.6]
Ed Hawkins P-L
To £10 level stakes (unless otherwise stated), based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate.
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