Following their 2-1 series win over West Indies, England’s Test attentions have now turned to Pakistan, who have an array of fast bowlers to call upon.
Here’s our lowdown on the eight quicks on Pakistan’s 20-man list for the three-match Test series, which begins at Emirates Old Trafford on Wednesday.
A nibbly right-arm quick and handy No.8 batsman, Ashraf has been a more regular presence in limited-overs cricket since his international debut in 2017, although he still didn’t make the cut for last year’s 50-over World Cup. Two of his four Test appearances came the last time these two sides met in 2018, when he took on the fourth seamer role and returned four wickets at 30.
No, not that one. Imran made his Test return against Australia last November after nearly three years out of the reckoning and holds a decent record considering half of his appearances have come on barren UAE surfaces. Capable of rushing batsmen with his front-on action.
The breakout star when Pakistan visited in 2018, Abbas’ accuracy and movement helped him to eight wickets in a nine-wicket win at Lord’s, and he was nigh on unplayable for Leicestershire that same summer, taking 50 Championship wicket at 18. His stock is no longer as high as it was back then – he was surprisingly overlooked for the first Test against Australia at the Gabba last year – but he remains the highest-placed Pakistani in the ICC Test bowling rankings. The average is still spectacular too.
The kid with the world at his feet. Just 17, Naseem has a Test hat-trick to his name and has been labelled as a “complete bowler” by Misbah-ul-Haq, Pakistan’s chief selector and head coach. Seriously quick – 90mph and all that – and a silky action too, you can understand why there’s been little apprehension to throw him in the deep end at such a young age.
The other obscenely talented youngster. A tall left-armer who glides seamlessly through the crease, the 20-year-old Shaheen is an established presence across all formats and will present a stern new-ball challenge to England’s top order.
Nine Test appearances have been accrued since his debut in 2009, and he hasn’t played once in the format since 2016 – yet Sohail is back and making a strong case for a place in the XI. His two Test five-fors came on Pakistan’s tour of England four years ago, and he ran through a first-choice top order in the intra-squad first-class fixture last month.
The left-armer made his Test debut in a four-man pace attack against Sri Lanka at Rawalpindi last December, with his finest international work so far coming in ODIs; his 34 wickets in the format have come at 18.61.
Blows hot and cold; when his pace is up and the ball is reversing, Wahab is a fine sight. A Test average of 34.50 sums things up pretty well, though. He took an indefinite break from red-ball cricket last year but the 35-year-old is back in the mix having not played Test cricket since October 2018.