MULTAN - Following a stunning final hour win in the opening Test, England will be riding high on confidence even as both teams face the challenge of a quick turnaround between the Tests. England had played the first game banking on the quick recovery of a few players from a viral infection and had subsequently managed to play their first eleven. A positive declaration, followed by some clinical bowling earned them a well-deserved victory in the first Test, with even the likes of Ben Stokes and James Anderson placing it amongst England’s best ever wins. It is that confidence that the squad, which has had an extraordinary run under the new leadership of Stokes and Brendon McCullum, will carry into the second Test, notwithstanding the workloads that have added up. After a longish stint out with the ball in both innings on a flat Rawalpindi surface, where they bowled a total of 252 overs, there would be concerns about the bowling fitness of a few players. As a result, England have opted to bolster the bowling line-up with the inclusion of Mark Wood. “Having someone in your squad who can bowl at 150 kilometres per hour is a massive bonus for any team around the world -- especially as Pakistan is a very hard place to come and win,” said England’s skipper Stokes on the selection. This also means that Ollie Pope will continue to don the gloves even though Ben Foakes is fit to play. Both Babar Azam and Stokes also expected reverse swing to come in quicker at Multan as compared to Rawalpindi given the dryness of the surface. The conditions in Multan, which has had a smog cover in the days leading up to the Test match, will be another challenge to battle for the tourists, who also had to be reassured of security after gunshots were heard in the vicinity of their hotel. Pakistan too will be considering making changes to their bowling line-up after a lacklustre display in the first half. The likes of Faheem Ashraf and Mohammad Wasim Jr will be up for consideration if they are to make a change. The home team’s concerns will be centred around their best bowling combination, and with the likes of Mohammad Nawaz, and the in-form spinner Abrar Ahmed who has come into the squad on the back of a good domestic season, amongst the back-up options, they’d be forced to rethink their combination from the Rawalpindi Test.
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