England showed strong resolve to win the first Test in Manchester by three wickets and take a 1-0 lead against Pakistan. The series now moves to Southampton, as the visitors search desperately for inspiration. With the series on the line, Pakistan will have to make sure they do better than in Manchester.
An interesting sub-plot to this fixture is the absence of England’s talismanic all-rounder Ben Stokes. He is going to miss the Test due to personal reasons and leaves the hosts a quality player short. Although England aren’t over-reliant on him in the last few matches, Pakistan will hope to take advantage of the situation.
A 139-run sixth-wicket stand in the second innings between Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes made all the difference for England in Manchester. Woakes had a great game with a match-winning unbeaten 84 and remains a strong pick.
Joe Root’s average returns – just two centuries in his last 19 innings – put pressure on him to improve. There is a chance that Mark Wood could come in place of Jofra Archer, while Stuart Broad and Ollie Pope offer value for money.
Pakistan did most of the things right, but lacked the knockout punch. Opener Shan Masood’s career-best 156 in the first innings is a bright spot. Leg-spinner Yasir Shah picked up eight wickets in the match and is another excellent choice.
There are doubts over all-rounder Shadab Khan’s presence in the final XI, so be wise while selecting him. Naseem Shah has been excellent with his pace, but his returns haven’t been satisfactory. Mohammad Rizwan’s excellent glovework presents an interesting choice for your fantasy team selection.
Fantasy Players to Watch
Babar Azam had a sparkling fifty in the first innings of the first Test. He needs another 76 runs to reach 2,000 Test career runs.
Chris Woakes has been the silent performer for England and proved the same in Manchester. The all-rounder is massive for the hosts and for your fantasy team as well.
Yasir Shah has excelled in Manchester with eight wickets. While doubts remain over the nature of the pitch in Southampton, the leg-spinner remains a prudent pick.
England: 1 Rory Burns 2 Dom Sibley 3 Joe Root (C) 4 Zak Crawley 5 Ollie Pope 6 Jos Buttler (WK) 7 Chris Woakes 8 Dom Bess 9 Mark Wood 10 Stuart Broad 11 James Anderson
Pakistan: 1 Abid Ali 2 Shan Masood 3 Azhar Ali (C) 4 Babar Azam 5 Asad Shafiq 6 Mohammad Rizwan (WK) 7 Fawad Alam 8 Yasir Shah 9 Mohammad Abbas 10 Naseem Shah 11 Shaheen Afridi
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