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Babar Azam and Joe Root speak to the media ahead of the 1st Test

Pakistan captain Babar Azam and Joe Root of England held their media conferences at the Pindi Cricket Stadium, Rawalpindi on Wednesday afternoon to preview the first Test between the two sides in Pakistan in 17 years.

The Rawalpindi Test, which begins on Thursday and will be followed by Tests in Multan (9-13 December) and Karachi (17-21 December), are part of the ICC World Test Championship. Pakistan are presently fifth, while England are seven on the championship table.

When England last played in Pakistan in 2005 under Michael Vaughan, Inzamam-ul-Haq’s side had won the three-Test series 2-0. Prior to the 2005 series, Nasser Hussain had led England to a six-wicket victory in Karachi in 2000, marking their first Test win in Pakistan in 39 years that also handed Pakistan’s their first-ever Test loss in Karachi.

Since the 2005 series and due to situation beyond the Pakistan Cricket Board’s control, Pakistan hosted England in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 2012 and 2015, winning five of the six Tests.

While the recent past performances in their home Test series makes Pakistan as a favourite, Ben Stokes-led England have also done enough, probably more, to start off with a favourites tag.

Stokes led England to ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 title at Lord’s, while on 13 November in Melbourne, he stroked a sparkling half-century against Pakistan to add the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup title to the collection. During their home summer season, England defeated New Zealand 3-0 and South Africa 2-1 in Brendon McCullum’s maiden series as head coach.

On the ICC rankings charts, England is ranked fourth, while Pakistan in sixth – 11 points behind. If Pakistan wins the series 2-0, they’ll move to 99, while England will slip to 99. In the scenario of Pakistan winning the series 1-0, Pakistan will rise to 97 points and England will drop to 100 points.

In the ICC player rankings for Test batters, Root is the No.1 ranked batter, while Babar Azam is ranked number-three. 16th ranked Mohammad Rizwan, 20th-ranked Abdullah Shafique, 21st-ranked Ben Stokes and 25th-ranked Azhar Ali are the other batters from either side to feature inside the top-25.

Amongst the bowlers, fifth-ranked James Anderson will start as the highest-ranked bowler from either side. Naseem Shah is Pakistan’s highest-ranked bowler in 59th spot.

Squads:

 

England squad: Ben Stokes (c), Ben Foakes (wk), Joe Root, James Anderson, Harry Brook, Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Will Jacks, Keaton Jennings, Jack Leach, Liam Livingstone, Jamie Overton, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Mark Wood, Rehan Ahmed.

 

Pakistan squad: Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Rizwan (vice-captain & WK), Abdullah Shafique, Abrar Ahmed, Azhar Ali, Faheem Ashraf, Haris Rauf, Imam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Ali, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Wasim Jnr, Naseem Shah, Nauman Ali, Salman Ali Agha, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Saud Shakeel, Shan Masood and Zahid Mehmood

 

Schedule of Tests:

 

1-5 December – 1st Test, Rawalpindi

9-13 December – 2nd Test, Multan

17-21 December – 3rd Test, Karachi

 

Playing hours (other than Fridays)

1st session – 1000-1200

2nd session – 1240-1440

3rd session – 1500-1700

 

Playing hours (on Fridays)

1st session – 1000-1230

2nd session – 1330-1500

3rd session – 1520-1720

 

Ticketing information:

 

Ticket prices for the Imran Khan, Javed Akhtar, Javed Miandad and Azhar Mahmood Stands – the four VIP Enclosures – have been fixed at PKR500, while the Premier Enclosures, which include Shoaib Akhtar, Sohail Tanvir, Miran Bakhsh and Yasir Arafat Stands, have been fixed at PKR250 each day.

 

Tickets are available online at https://pcb.bookme.pk/ Payments can be made using Easypaisa/Jazzcash/credit card/Nift options, while helpline number is 042 111 BOOKME. The tickets will be delivered to the buyers on the provided addresses.