Pakistan v England First Test Betting: History against England

England are unlikely to be celebrating often in Abu Dhabi
England are unlikely to be celebrating often in Abu Dhabi

Ed Hawkins previews the first of three Tests between these two rivals and can't see the tourists causing a surprise in Abu Dhabi from Tuesday morning...

"If there are heavy runs we know that will bring the draw price right down."

Recommended Bet

Back-to-lay the draw from 3.55/2 to 2.01/1

Pakistan v England
Start: Tuesday, 07:00
TV: Live on Sky Sports


Pakistan

All was going swimmingly for Pakistan in the build-up to the three-Test series. Their representative sides had exposed chinks in England's armour and they themselves had trained with energy and purpose.

But just when they were about to pack up to return to the hotel on the eve of game one, their talisman Yasir Shah suffered a back injury. He collapsed to the ground when picking up a ball and Misbah-ul-Haq, the skip, has rated him doubtful.

It is a significant blow. Yasir was the one player we knew who could be the difference between the sides. No Pakistani has reached 50 test wickets quicker. Think about that. Wasim, Waqar, Qadir. They were all slower.

Pakistan have called up left-arm spinner Zafar Gohar, who played against England in their two warm-up matches last week. But he is unlikely to arrive in time so they will have to pick another pace bowler.

Zulfiqar Babar will now be promoted to No 1 spinner. He is effective and admirable but he doesn't carry the same threat as Yasir.

Pakistan are also without Azhar Ali, who has a foot injury. Shoaib Malik is a vastly experienced potential replacement.


England

England have had their own issues. They have dropped catches, Moeen Ali has failed to impress in his new opening berth and Trevor Bayliss, the coach, has admitted they are "undercooked".

Their woes worsened when Steven Finn was ruled out with a foot injury. Finn had a live chance of playing given his impressive warm-up performances and there had been talk that James Anderson might miss out.

England must therefore decide whether to pick the extra pacer in Mark Wood, spinner in the shape of Samit Patel or the extra batsman - James Taylor. The former is the most likely.

Adil Rashid will be elevated straight to number one spinner and despite good form on tour it remains to be seen how he will cope with being the main man on debut.


First-innings runs

There have been only seven Tests played at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium. They have produced first-dig scores of (most recent last): 584-197-257-249-204-570-566. That is an average of 375. We would be surprised if 400-plus was not breached first up here, though given the respective issues with the bowlers.


Match Odds

Pakistan are 2.447/5, England 3.39/4 and The Draw is 3.55/2. There is much to ponder about each price.

It has to be said that the hosts could not be considered value at those odds without Yasir. If he is declared fit, fair enough but it would be folly to back them without being sure he was playing.

England are not a fancy, either. It is good news for them that the venue is not that spin-friendly (amazingly, this ground is statistically the worst for spinners in the whole of Asia) but they are a poor side on the road in the first Test of a series. They have zero wins in the last ten years - 14 series worth.

So that leaves us with the stalemate. We know that both sides might not be at their strongest with the ball on what is a very good batting surface.

Batsmen average 38.25 runs per dismissal in Abu Dhabi, which is the highest they average at any venue that has hosted at least five Tests. In just seven Tests, batsmen have hit 21 centuries and 33 fifties.

If there are heavy runs we know that will bring the draw price right down. It is something of a no-brainer that we shape up with a back-to-lay of the draw. We would hope for a whole point on day one and odds on by lunch on day two.

Bear in mind there is a chance of deterioration in the surface. England are certainly more vulnerable here and one feels that if they have to bat last they are prone to panic.


Top Pakistan runscorer

Misbah averages just the 120 in Abu Dhabi. He has made 844 runs in seven Tests, including five tons in his last six innings. The 6.25/1 about him outscoring his teammates looks value. Younis Khan is 4.84/1 jolly. Ahmed Shehzad, who got a whopper here against the Kiwis last time, is 6.25/1.


Top England runscorer

This is the ground where England were rolled for 72 in 2012 when they were chasing just 145 to win. So it is hard to claim that they will feel comfortable here. Alastair Cook, however, did hit 94 in the first innings. He is 5.39/2. Along with Joe Root, who is 3.8514/5, there is no-one else worth backing.


Recommended Bet

Back-to-lay the draw from 3.55/2 to 2.01/1

Ed Hawkins P/L

2015: +£350.40
2014: +315.10
2013: +250.80
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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