England out to prove a point


A toothless bowling attack, brittle opening batting partnership and callow spin options leave England with much to prove in seven home Tests against Pakistan and India starting on Thursday.
Joe Root will lead out the side at Lord’s in the first of two matches against Pakistan, desperate to put behind him a heavy Ashes defeat in Australia and a rare loss to New Zealand which has left England in a state of flux and fifth in the rankings.
Question marks
The good news for the host is that it usually plays much better on its own soil but there are so many question marks against the team that Root should be taking nothing for granted.
James Anderson, 35, and 31-year-old Stuart Broad are still the mainstays of a pace attack which struggled to make inroads in the Australian top order.
England needs Mark Wood, , Chris Woakes and Ben Stokes to shoulder more responsibility.
The spin bowling options are thin.
Moeen Ali has been dropped after toiling in Australia where he never looked like taking many wickets.
Jack Leach was ruled out with a broken thumb and England has called up uncapped 20-year-old Dominic Bess. Alastair Cook will open the batting alongside Mark Stoneman, a partnership which failed to convince in Australia or New Zealand and has been retained largely due to a lack of viable alternatives.
Pakistanrarely enjoys English conditions and a young team captained by Sarfraz Ahmed is likely to include only four players who took part in the last series in England two years ago.
Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq are their most accomplished batsmen and Mohammad Amir will lead the pace attack.


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