Free cricket betting tips: England v Pakistan second Test preview

Joe Root
Joe Root

England head to Leeds for the second Natwest Test match on Friday with the pressure firmly on Joe Root's side. Cricket expert Richard Mann gives his thoughts on the action.

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2pts Mohammad Abbas Top Pakistan first innings bowler at 3/1

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England were humbled by an inexperienced but talented Pakistan side at Lord’s last week, folding weakly to lose by nine wickets, and Joe Root and Trevor Bayliss will know that anything other than victory in Yorkshire will place their jobs under even closer scrutiny.

For Bayliss, strong questions are already being asked about his role as coach following an abysmal run of form that has seen the Test team fail to win a match since last summer.

While Bayliss has overseen dramatic improvement in the ODI side – helping them reach number one in the rankings – the Test outfit has seemingly gone backwards and he cut a frustrated figure at the conclusion of the First test of the series on Sunday.

In fairness, he and his fellow selectors made big calls prior to the series, and both Jos Buttler and Dom Bess repaid that faith with encouraging performances.

However, it is the continued struggles of some of England’s more senior figures that is most alarming with the trend of the top order failing to convert fifties into three figures seeing England post only 184 and 242 at Lord's.

Joe Root walks off with his side staring at defeat
Joe Root couldn't prevent another defeat at Lord's

Of the top six, only Alistair Cook and Root looked comfortable against a highly-skilled and well-balanced Pakistan bowling attack but both failed to turn their promising returns into something close to a match-defining contribution and England are only too aware that they need to start making big runs soon.

Mark Stoneman is the latest casualty of the poor recent run, Keaton Jennings returning to the side having lost his place and confidence at the hands of Vernon Philander last summer.

Jennings appears a sound pick, a shrewd operator who is highly regarded by the England management and someone who was good enough to make a hundred on his Test debut in Mumbai in 2016.

At 25-years-of-age, he is young enough to make the necessary improvements to his game and could prove a long-term solution to England’s top-order issues if able to cement his place in the next few months.

Chris Woakes is likely to come under serious consideration for Headingley but Mark Wood bowled with heart and pace at Lord’s while it is unlikely England will discard Stuart Broad given he has looked closer to his old self in the last couple of games.

For the tourists, most things in their garden would appear rosy but losing Babar Azam to a broken arm is a huge loss and even more responsibility will fall on Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq.

Both made half-centuries at Lord’s and it was noticeable how they countered England’s seamers; Shafiq, in particular, playing the ball as late as possible with a method very similar to that used by Ian Bell in his pomp, while Ali looked to leave as much as possible before pouncing on anything drifting onto the pads.

Asad Shafiq
Asad Shafiq is a key figure in Pakistan's batting

Both will be key performers for the tourists again but there is plenty of talent in the batting line up, as demonstrated by Haris Sohail’s showing in the first Test, and with their bowlers outperforming England's much-vaunted attack, Pakistan might be a touch of value at 11/4.

Sure, it is fair to assume that there will be a reaction from England this week but it is hard to get away from the fact that they have become a poor Test team with major issues throughout the side – recent form tells us as much – while Pakistan look just the opposite.

Expertly coached by the impressive Mickey Arthur and led with energy and passion by Sarfraz Ahmed, Pakistan have the look of a team going places; young, hungry and with any amount of untapped potential, and England will need a special performance in Leeds to level the series.

Having tipped up James Anderson and Shafiq for series honours before the first Test match here, I am happy to watch that pair with interest but can’t resist a bet on Mohammad Abbas to be Pakistan’s top first innings wicket-taker.

Abbas is a class act who is well suited to English conditions and his figures of 8-64 at Lord's helped him pick up the Man Of The Match award.

That performance came hot on his heels of his match-winning nine wickets in the defeat of Ireland, and with conditions in Headingley again expected to suit his style of bowling, odds of 3/1 make a fair amount of appeal.

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