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Stuart Dalgleish 15th Jan 2012 - 17:17

England to show their Gulf in class

Pakistan v England series preview - Tuesday 06:00 live on Sky Sports 1

England (10/11) are in the unfamiliar surroundings of the UAE as they take on Pakistan (9/4, draw 11/4) in a three-match Test series.

It is the first series that England are embarking on as the number one Test team, with this obviously extra pressure will be on them, but I think they are more than capable of proving just why they're the top dogs.

You see other international squads and you think 'what's that player doing in the team?', but it isn't like that with England now, they have superb strength in depth and there isn't a weak link in the side.

Even if one player is struggling, there will always be somebody to pick up the slack, but that's not to say that England are 'carrying' anyone at the minute.

You could argue out of the batsmen Andrew Strauss (4/1 England top series batsman) is the player most in need of a score, but his leadership qualities mean that he's under no threat of losing his place.

Kevin Pietersen (5/1) hasn't exactly been on fire in the warm-up games, but he is the sort of guy that lifts himself for the big occasion, he stood up to the plate in the summer against India and I expect him to contain the Pakistan attack this winter.

KP's struggles with spin are well documented, and it promises to be an interesting battle between him and Pakistan's star bowler Saeed Ajmal (9/4 Pakistan top series bowler), but it's one I'd back the England batsman to win.

Saeed is Pakistan's Graeme Swann (7/4 England top series bowler), they will look to use him almost constantly from one end while the quicks get rotated, but if Umar Gul (7/2) isn't performing then they really don't have much else to shout about.

This is the difference between the two sides, while England have a never-ending stream of fine bowlers, Pakistan really are relying strongly on just two players to try take 20 wickets in the match.

You only have to look at the batting line-up; against India in the summer nine of the 13 players used by England scored at least a 50 and five people including numbers six and seven scored centuries.

Those two players, Eoin Morgan and Matt Prior, are both 12/1 to top score for England; and it's a cracking price for two players in top form, but they might not always get a look-in such is England's fantastic top order.

Ian Bell (5/1) and Alastair Cook (7/2) were the third and fifth top run-scorers in the calendar year (Tests), and both of them played less games than their nearest rivals, Bell actually averaged over a century a game, quite incredible for a player that tends to get shifted about the order a lot.

In fairness to Pakistan, they also had players featuring prominently in the top run-getters of 2011, but they did play Tests against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe so you're struggling if you can't get a decent knock against either of them two.

The player that England will be fearing the most is Younis Khan (10/3 Pakistan top series batsman), he's head and shoulders above anything that Pakistan have got in their top-order and he won't give his wicket away cheaply.

Similar to their bowling attack though, there's not a whole great deal to worry England other than Younis, the captain Misbah-ul-Haq (9/2) is a wise, reliable figure but not exciting by any stretch, he has the danger of frustrating England though if the pitch isn't doing much.

This is the sort of series that England need to get out of the way with minimal fuss, and I think that's exactly what they'll do - they're not odds-on away from home too often but 10/11 should be snapped up before it's too late.

I like the look of 2-0 in the correct score market at odds of 4/1, also on offer is 11/4 for England -1, if they can do it to Australia in their backyard they can do it to Pakistan.


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