After its joyous, redemptive victory at Lord’s, Pakistan will attempt to carry the momentum forward into its second Test against England, starting Friday at Old Trafford. In its first Test in England since its last tour ended in defeat in disgrace four years ago, Pakistan could not have dreamt of a better five days at the home of cricket.
Veteran captain Misbah-ul-Haq defied his 42 years by leading from the front with a first-innings century and a pushup celebration that became the enduring image of the Test. Fittingly, the contest was ended by a wicket from Mohammad Amir, who on his last visit to Lord’s had been found guilty of spot-fixing, imprisoned and suspended for five years. More pushups from the whole team duly ensued as well as a salute to the Pakistan flag, a tribute to the army instructors who had clearly done stellar work preparing the squad for the tour.
Yet, having been for so long tagged as cricket’s most unpredictable team, the challenge now for Pakistan is to show that the performance at Lord’s, its first win there since 1996, is not a one off. Misbah insists that the team isn’t getting carried away by its 75-run victory.
“We know that England is a fine team,” he said at a press conference ahead of the match. “There is a big challenge for us in coming games. The celebrations were no disrespect to England team. They were simply to recognize and acknowledge those who have helped us.”
England captain Alistair Cook was in a far less buoyant mood after the first Test defeat, describing Pakistan’s celebration as “not pleasant” and suggesting that the cricketing gods might make them pay for it before the four-match series was out.
Cook has had plenty of other concerns to keep him occupied, however, chiefly the furor over the decision to leave out James Anderson from the first Test. While player, captain and coach all believed England’s record wicket taker was fit to play, the England selectors decided that his shoulder injury needed more rest, despite him playing for his country side Lancashire instead that weekend.
"If we'd won, that story wouldn't have blown up like it has,” Cook said. "It happened, it was a slightly messy affair and an unimportant sideshow. We have to move on and play good cricket.
“The medical report was 50-50, so he was left out. The selectors felt he was a week away from match fitness. We didn't play the greatest game of cricket, so people start jumping on things that were less important.”
England will feature much-changed bowling attack in Manchester, with not only Anderson returning but also Ben Stokes. Jake Ball and Steve Finn, having already been released from the squad, will be the men replaced. Adil Rashid could also come in alongside Moeen Ali to give England two spin options.
Pakistan, meanwhile, has received a fitness boost, with leg-spinner Yashir Shah, who tore through England in the first Test, taking 10 wickets, having recovered from a knock to his shoulder during practice.
Alastair Cook (c), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Gary Ballance, Stuart Broad, Alex Hales, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Ben Stokes , James Vince, Chris Woakes
Misbah-ul-Haq (c), Asad Shafiq, Azhar Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imran Khan, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Rizwan, Rahat Ali, Sami Aslam, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Shan Masood, Sohail Khan, Wahab Riaz, Yasir Shah, Younis Khan, Zulfiqar Babar.
2nd Test Schedule
Friday, July 22, Tuesday, July 26: Start time each day at 6 a.m. EDT
Live Stream: ESPN3