Pakistan are confident and looking to capitalize on an England squad coming off two series losses when the two teams meet for the first of a two-match Test series which is starting from 24th May.
In recent history, when Pakistan and England get together, strange, uplifting, parochial and the outright bizarre occur. It’s never England that bring these moments. It’s always Pakistan.
Whether you like it or not, the English press and the English crowds haven’t forgotten about that damning 2010 series. No-balls, this spot-fixing caper and players lending bookies their jacket. It will also be fuel for the banter fire.
Get ready for local newspaper articles that read along the lines of “Ex-Spot Fixer Amir Uses Bottle Top To Reverse Swing Pakistan To Victory”. It is just how they roll over there.
The 2012 series was played in the deserts of the UAE. Saeed Ajmal struck out more English batsmen than ever before. The scorebook looked more baseball than cricket with the K’s piling up due to his bent arm.
Two years later, he would be banned for throwing and never return to the heights of being the highest-ranked spinner in the world. England left the sandpit with a 0-3 scoreline while Pakistan had created a fortress in this far-flung outpost.
That Ajmal ban opened the door for Yasir Shah in 2015. The only man in history to achieve the feat of reaching 100 Test wickets quicker than anyone else and then getting banned for taking the wrong pills.
It also saw the return to Test cricket of the retired Shoaib Malik. After making a brutal 245, he subsequently retired again to focus on the earning opportunities that the white-ball tournaments provide. Pakistan 2. Draws 1. England 0.
2016 saw perhaps the best ever Test series between the two countries. Well, Pakistan is a country. England is more accurately described as a representative team encompassing England, Wales and whatever players it can entice from New Zealand, the West Indies and the African nations.
We saw the launch of army training camps. Salutes of respect. But the most lingering memory was those pushups by men old enough to be grandfathers. We saw Younis Khan jumping around at the crease like a child on a trampoline, achieving little during the first three Tests before making a double hundred in the final match to seal a drawn series. It was the innings that arguably sealed Pakistan’s rise to the number one Test match ranking.