England go in to the 3 test match series against Pakistan in the UAE on Tuesday looking for some consistency ahead of a tough winter. After edging a thrilling Ashes series against Australia in the summer, they are now desperately searching for some away form before travelling to South Africa to test themselves against the number 1 test team in the World. England haven’t won an away test series since the 2012/13 tour of India and to add insult to injury the last time they were in the UAE they were whitewashed 3-0 after their batsman struggled to cope with the Pakistani spinners. However, Alistair Cook’s men have a new found belief under the recently appointed Trevor Bayliss and are finally showing signs of solidarity for the first time since the 5-0 embarrassment down under two years ago.
Bayliss and Cook have a couple of tough decisions to make before the start of the first test despite their Ashes victory earlier in the year. Yorkshire opener Adam Lyth has been dropped after finishing the Ashes with the second lowest average of all the England players. This has once again left England searching for a new opening partner for Cook, the seventh since Andrew Strauss’ retirement. Bayliss has hinted that Moeen Ali will accompany Cook at the top of the order after predominantly batting in the lower order in recent series, despite being a batting all-rounder. This would also allow England to select another bowler, specifically the exciting leg spinner Adil Rashid. Rashid has been waiting patiently for his test debut after an impressive couple of seasons in the LV= County Championship and should finally get his chance. The dry surfaces in the UAE will help his aggressive bowling and no doubt he and Ali will have a big part to play in all three tests.
Elsewhere in the England set up Bayliss will need to choose between out of form regular Jos Buttler or the inform Jonny Bairstow to take the gloves. While Middlesex paceman Steven Finn has been staking a claim for a spot in the starting XI after bowling well in the warm ups and batsman James Taylor has been knocking on the door of reselection all summer. It has been a while since England has had the privilege of competition for places of this quality and is something that Cook and Bayliss will be more than happy about.
Nevertheless, playing away from home is always extremely difficult and the UAE will be no different. Led by veteran batsman Misbah-ul-Haq, Pakistan boast a handful of quality players and haven’t lost a series in the UAE since making it their home in 2010. England were, however, handed a boost with the news that star batsman Azhar Ali and spinner Yasir Shah are both expected to miss the first test through injury but one still thinks it will take a monumental effort from The Three Lions to take the series.
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