Sunday 17 December 2017 / 12:06 AM

ENGLAND v PAKISTAN SERIES PREVIEW

England start their four-Test series against Pakistan tonight (AEST).

It is the same venue where Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Asif and Salman Butt were caught match fixing in 2010.

Amir is the only player to return to international cricket since the trio were banned, and this will be his first match back in the Test arena.

There will plenty of pressure heaped on the fast bowler, both from the crowd and within the Pakistan set-up.

The left-armer burst onto the Test scene and claimed 51 wickets in just 14 matches; in his last match at Lords he took 6-84.

After a strong showing in early trial games, it looks as if Amir has retained the ability to test batsmen with pace, while he can move the ball.

Pakistan’s pace spearhead, Wahab Riaz, told Cricinfo he is hoping Amir can replicate his sensational form from six years ago.

“I want him to take five wickets in this Test match to get his name back and to get his image back,” Riaz said.

“I wish him all the best to win this Test for Pakistan.”

Pakistan will rely heavily on their bowling unit if they are to be successful in English conditions.

Alongside Amir and Riaz, Pakistan will look to their frontline leg spinner, Yasir Shah.

Shah has made a stunning start to his Test cricket career, taking 76 wickets in just 12 matches. However, he is yet to play a Test outside of Asia.

He does have experience in English conditions, playing as a professional in League cricket since 2010. This is where he honed his craft and learnt the ability to bowl long attacking spells without leaking runs.

With England set on a bowling attack heavily reliant on new-ball bowling from Stuart Broad and James Anderson, the Pakistan top order will face a tough task.

England will have a debutant in the match with fast bowler Toby Roland-Jones or Jake Ball earning their maiden Test cap.

The bowling attacks of both sides look to be fairly equal, but it’s in the batting line-ups where England are set to pip the Pakistanis.

Alastair Cook and Alex Hales will open for England, with Joe Root moving to the No.3 spot.

Root told The Express he is ready for the added responsibility of batting at first drop.

“There have been a few conversations over the last six months that it was something that could happen down the line,” Root said.

“It was in their thoughts and gave me an opportunity to think about it.

“I was asked leading up to the selection that it could be a possibility, I said, ‘Yeah, I think that could be the right thing to do.’

“It will be interesting to see how it goes but I’m just looking forward to getting on with it.

“’Cooky’ takes the mick out of me, saying you’ve got such a great record batting where you do, but you should do it at the top where it really matters,” Root said.

“He says I did the five Tests then weaseled my way down the order and he is right!

“I’m pretty happy with the opportunity and I just want to get cracking now.”

England have also recalled Gary Ballance, who was dropped after the 2015 Ashes.

Ballance averages 47.76 with four hundreds after 15 Tests.

England won the last series on home soil – that fateful 2010 tour by Pakistan – three Tests to one, but Pakistan have prevailed in two series staged in the United Arab Emirates since, 3-0 in the 2011/12 summer and 2-0 in 2015/16.

[YouTube – SportsMania]

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Mitchell Van Homrigh

Brisbane-based Mitchell arrived at CBS in 2016 to bolster the site’s football and cricket coverage.

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