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We ‘re set to see our Babars and our Shaheens play competitive cricket after the coronavirus and the resulting lockdown. And what a welcome relief it is.
The cricketers from Pakistan and 11 support staff members arrived from Lahore on a chartered flight, and were transferred to Worcestershire.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) had provided for their testing before going through a 14-day period of isolation during which they were permitted to train.
Test skipper Azhar Ali said the squad looked forward to playing some of the first test matches since the COVID-19 pandemic caused a global lockdown. “All the players are excited after a tough period,” said Azhar
“Though a tour to England has always been challenging, our performances there on the last two tours [in 2016 and 2018] are encouraging and we will try to repeat those.”
Misbah also said on the occasion:
“I think Pakistan mustn’t miss out the chance to catch them [England] unguarded as the West Indies did in the first Test,” said Misbah. “But having said that, we’ve got to play very good cricket if we want to win the series. England may have the advantage of playing West Indies, but we aren’t going to make it comfortable for the home side.” he added from Old Trafford. “Preparation-wise, we’ve done extremely well since coming to England after a three-month period of total inactivity due to the Covid-19 situation. The real challenge is mental because, if you think in a positive frame of mind, things become much easier to handle.”
The 46-year-old Misbah also said that, “The squad looks in good shape after thorough training sessions and the intra-squad matches, we had in Worcester and Derby. Obviously, the boys are eager to prove their mettle against a competitive England side who are on a high after winning the West Indies series. We are now looking forward to the series. On top of it all, the West Indies Tests gave us a clear insight what we can achieve in the coming weeks.”
With the first test scheduled to commence at Manchester’s Old Trafford on Wednesday, with the remaining two tests to be held at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton, Misbah claimed Pakistan will be putting up a better show in its effort to improve its ranking in the ICC World Test.
Pakistan drew a four-Test series 2-2 in 2016 and a two-match series 1-1 two years later.
Things are different this time around. The game has a host of modern rules about how to shine the ball and how not to. Having to bowl with the Duke ball they’re not used to and in circumstances they ‘re not used to, could be challenging for Pakistan.
The absence of spectators would in principle favor Pakistan because they have more experience of playing behind closed doors than anybody else. English crowd, though, has never been considered to be offensive enough to give the home side some advantage so it doesn’t count.