England vs Pakistan, 2020: Top 5 Pakistan Players To Keep An Eye On In This Test Series

Who are the top 5 Pakistan players to watch out for? Do Babar Azam and Naseem Shah make the list?
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Can The Top 5 Pakistan Players Pave The Way To A Series Victory?

Who are your top 5 Pakistan players to watch out for?

After a successful series against the West Indies, the Englishman are all set to take on the Asian giants-Pakistan for a three match test series, followed by as many T20I’s. Before the T20I series, all eyes will be on the much-awaited Test series.

Historically, the visitors have enjoyed success while playing against the host nation in comparison to other subcontinent teams. However, a lot of this success has been in London based venues. The three games are all outside London this tour.

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Pakistan have already announced their 20 Man squad for the Test series and the team looks a perfect blend of youth and experience. There are some exciting young players and also some experienced performers who’ll be keen to make a mark in this series.

So, here are the top 5 Pakistan players to look forward to in this series.

5) Naseem Shah

Naseem Shah picks up a wicket. He is part of the Pakistan Squad to England in 2020.
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 23: Naseem Shah of Pakistan celebrates after taking his first test wicket, the wicket of David Warner of Australia during day three of the 1st Domain Test between Australia and Pakistan at The Gabba on November 23, 2019 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde – CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

The 17-year-old teen sensation has made a dream start to his international career. Since his debut in December against Australia, he has taken 13 wicket in just four test outings. This includes a five-wicket haul vs Sri Lanka and a momentous hat-trick against Bangladesh on his home turf.

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The young right-arm pacer has got all the attributes to succeed in England. He is capable of clocking 90+MPH consistently. He also gets good bounce and movement off the seam along with the ability to bowl fast bumpers with his side on action. This makes him a force to reckon with. Looking at the recent series where the pacers dominated, the role of Naseem Shah will be very crucial for Pakistan’s success in this series.

Naseem Shah is number 5 on our list of top 5 Pakistan players to watch out for.

4) Mohammad Rizwan

Mohammad Rizwan is an exciting young talent for Pakistan Cricket and one of their top players
Pakistan’s batsman Mohammad Rizwan waves as he walk back to pavilion after dismissal on day four of the first Test cricket match between Pakistan and Australia at the Gabba in Brisbane on November 24, 2019. (Photo by Saeed KHAN / AFP) / — IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE – STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE — (Photo by SAEED KHAN/AFP /AFP via Getty Images)

The wicket-keeper batsman will be looking to continue his good run which started down under in Australia last year. Being the first choice wicket-keeping option, expectations are high for Mohammad Rizwan – especially after the way he performed in Australia. He has got a good technique to tackle bounce and movement which will be very important as he bats in the lower middle order.

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His recent form also favours him. Rizwan scored a hundred and a fifty in one of the practice games at Derby. More than anyone else, Rizwan would love to continue his good run of form and make this opportunity count, with Sarfaraz Ahmed waiting in the wings.

Mohammad Rizwan is number 4 on our list of top 5 Pakistan players to watch out for.

3) Azhar Ali

LONDON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 14: Azhar Ali celebrates hitting the winning runs for Pakistan during day four of the fourth Investec test match between England and Pakistan at The Kia Oval on August 14, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Visionhaus/Corbis via Getty Images)

After being named as the Captain of Pakistan’s test team in October 2019, this will be the first time he will lead his country in England in test match cricket.

For Azhar Ali the batsman, this could be a make or break series. He already has the experience of playing in English conditions but has never performed up to the expectations. In fact, he averages under 30 in England. He needs to score big runs because most of the other batters haven’t played much in English conditions.

So, as a senior player and the Captain of the team, he has to lead from the front. His form and on-field decisions will be key to Pakistan’s chances in this series.

Azhar Ali is number 3 on our list of top 5 Pakistan players to watch out for.

2) Shaheen Shah Afridi

Pakistan’s bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi (R) celebrates after taking the wicket of Bangladesh’s Mominul Haque during the fourth day of the first cricket Test match between Pakistan and Bangladesh at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium in Rawalpindi on February 10, 2020. (Photo by AAMIR QURESHI / AFP) (Photo by AAMIR QURESHI/AFP via Getty Images)

Shaheen Afridi has caught everyone’s eye since his international debut in 2018. He has often been regarded as the next big thing in Pakistan cricket by many cricketing icons across the world. In his short test career, he has played eight matches and has 30 wickets to his tally at an average of under 30.

His left-arm angle brings an x-factor to the bowling attack. Hitting the right areas has been his biggest strength alongside his aggression and natural ability to move the ball both ways. Shaheen also has really good pace.

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Shaheen will post a threat to the English batsman as this will be the first time since the South Africa test series that they’ll face a quality left-arm seamer. Pakistan will be hoping that Shaheen will deliver up to the expectations in the upcoming series.

Shaheen Shah Afridi is number 2 on our list of top 5 Pakistan players to watch out for.

1) Babar Azam

DERBY, ENGLAND – JULY 28: Babar Azam of Pakistan poses for a portrait during the Pakistan Test Squad Photo call at Derbyshire CCC on July 28, 2020 in Derby, England. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

The rise of Babar Azam has been dramatic over the last few years. He has already reached heights by scoring heavily in the limited-overs cricket. But it has been from the start of 2019 that he really has performed to the best of his ability in the red-ball format.

He has amassed 616 runs at 68.44 at a healthy strike rate of 72.30 with three centuries and three fifties since then. He was the lone warrior for Pakistan in Australia last year where he accumulated 210 runs in four innings at 52.50 with the help of one century and one fifty against a formidable pace attack of Australia. All eyes will be on Babar and how he plays against the inform English bowlers.

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As Babar continues to improve and impress as a test batsman, this series will provide an ideal opportunity for him to showcase his talent against the pace battery of England in their own backyard. Being the backbone of the team, Babar’s form will decide the fate of Pakistan in this series.

The two teams will lock horns in the first match of the series on 5 August at the Old Trafford, Manchester. The last two tests are scheduled to take place at the Rose Bowl and all the matches will be played behind the closed doors in a biosecure environment.

Babar Azam sits is number 1 on our list of top 5 Pakistan players to watch out for.

 

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