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Stuart Dalgleish 4th Aug 2010 - 21:34

Testing times for Pakistan

Go back just two weeks and Pakistan cricket was on a high, they had just beaten one of the best Test teams in the world Australia in convincing style and their bowling attack was hailed as the most dangerous on the planet.

Times change.

While their seamers performed well in parts, outstanding at times to be fair, they weren't able to keep up the same level of consistency that we saw at Leeds on the Headingley pitch as England's batsman were able to score enough runs to never really think they were in danger of losing the game.

Part of the reason for England's (4/7 to win the match) confidence is Pakistan's (5/1, the draw is 5/2) inexperienced and oft changed batting line-up that was left seriously exposed by England's own 'swing king' James Anderson (15/8 top England bowler).

That incredible performance from the Lancashire ace was really needed too, with the Ashes now only a few months away, it seems that almost nobody is safe in the team such is the strength in depth available to Andy Flower and the panel of selectors.

It would seem harsh to drop Anderson after he's been one of England's most consistent performers over the last five years but it happened to Matthew Hoggard so it could happen to Jimmy.

He found himself out of the picture in the Caribbean when England won the World Twenty20 and the last thing he would want would be to watch from the sidelines as England kick-off the first Ashes Test at Brisbane in November.

That is unlikely, but with the likes of Graham Onions (who is injured at the minute), Ryan Sidebottom and Ajmal Shahzad all chomping at the bit to be involved, England's attack can't really afford any off days or one of these three could be back in.

While England have the luxury of such quality options waiting in the wings, Pakistan are woefully short of real top talent to step in for times of crisis.

This is why they've gone for veteran Mohammad Yousuf (11/4 top Pakistan batsman) to try help out their dismal batsmen, he only retired (after being given an indefinite ban by the PCB) from international cricket in March but Visa permitting he'll be back in the team Friday morning at Edgbaston.

Calls were made for another of the players involved in the nightmare tour of Australia to return, but for the time being the selectors have opted against bringing back Younus Khan for the 2nd Test, if (when) they lose heavily again they might have to rethink that decision.

It's a far cry to a few years back when you had the likes of Inzy blasting the ball to all corners of the ground, but right now Pakistan's batting is in a bit of a shambles.

They need some of their more experienced players to step up; otherwise they will be on the receiving end of another whitewash, like they got in Australia.

At the minute the only thing that will stop the tourists from a 4-0 series scoreline (11/4) is the weather, which is forecast to be rain over the weekend, even then though they'll probably need two days to be washed out because it only took England four days to finish the job off at Trent Bridge.

Hill's spokesman Rupert Adams had this to say on this to say about the weather "The money has been for England or the draw with less than 2% of turnover for a Pakistan victory."

It's led to the draw being cut into 5/2 from 3/1.

I really hope Pakistan's top order can sort themselves out because their bowlers deserve this series to be more competitive than it's currently looking like ending up.

Young Mohammad Aamer (9/4 top Pakistan bowler) is fast turning into one of the best seamers in world cricket, but it will mean nothing to him if he's constantly in a losing team.



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