England will play their first test match in Pakistan in 17 years when the first test of a three-match series begins at Rawalpindi on Thursday. Under Ben Stokes and former New Zealand great McCullum, England have revamped their game – winning six of their last seven Tests at home playing what has been dubbed “Bazball”, after the coach’s nickname. That came after a dismal run of just one win in 17 Tests – including a 4-0 humiliation in Australia’s Ashes – resulting in the sacking of head coach Chris Silverwood and Stokes taking over as skipper from Joe Root.
But low and slow throws in Pakistan – where England last played a Test in 2005 – pose another challenge for England. That series was a memorable one for Pakistani pace great Shoaib Akhtar. He then took 17 wickets.
Akhtar recalled the series, telling The Guardian in an interview: “I was on the edge of my couch wondering if I would be selected for the series or not. Once I was, my main motivation was Freddie Flintoff. “
Flintoff had mocked the speedster after playing in the 2005 ICC Super Series. “looked like Tarzan, but bent like Jane,” Flintoff had said then. Shoaib was determined to give the star all-rounder a fitting answer. “I got Freddie on my radar and I just started bowling bouncers. He was uncomfortable, I took him out and said to him, ‘How do I look, Mr. Flintoff, like Tarzan or Jane?’
“He said, ‘Forgive me Shoaib. You are two different people in the space of three weeks. You were unfit and down in the mouth and now you are completely different. What happened?’ I said, ‘Lots of painkillers and even more heart.’”
In the current series, England will play three Tests in Rawalpindi, Multan and Karachi.
With UKTN inputs
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