The bottom line is this. If Pakistan wins this test match then England drop to number 7 in the ICC test ranking. If this pressure was not enough Stoneman has been dropped and Jennings will be playing in the side. Further, the injury to Ben Stokes is a big blow. The wicket looks like a batting wicket.
Team Changes: Pakistan had to leave Babar Azam out because of his injury. England will be without Ben Stokes, Stoneman and Wood. These changes will have an impact on my index. Pakistan ended the test match with 2,071 points. They will start this match with 1,804. England ended the test match with 861 points. Due to the changes, England starts with 641 points. To put this into context; Pakistan has lost more points by having Babar Azam out of the game than England with the three changes. As a percentage though England has fallen more. This is how the Cricket Portfolio Index looks like at the start of the match
The people coming in for England have a lot of work to do. Between themselves, they have no choice but to do better. Broad has to make a bigger contribution. Needless to say, the batsmen will have to stay on and get those big Daddy Hundreds.
It should be possible for England to go past Ireland in this match. They will have to win by a huge margin if they have to come close to Pakistan’s points although it may not be possible for them to go past them.
Pakistan has won the toss and elected to bat. This was the right decision. I am sure that Pakistan would feel that they have won both tosses. The equation is simple really. England will have to get as many wickets as possible in the first hour of play. Batting should become significantly easier after that. Pakistan will have the comfort of knowing that Shadab Khan will be there for the fourth innings. That is assuming that they last till then though. England will have to play the game as a Test Match and not as a limited over format.
This Test Match is dubbed as “The Participation Test.” Where the ECB and SKY sports are working together to encourage taking part in the game. Tomorrow the focus will be on British Asians. Nearly 17 years to the date Nasser Hussein said that British Asians should support England rather than their country of origin. That debate is still being had. The best way to win British Asians is to win. England has a golden opportunity to do it this season. The question is whether they will be able to do it. England has no option but to win this.