Cook’s England face stern Test against unbeatable Pakistan

If there’s an ideal series for England to take on after claiming the Ashes this summer it’s a battle with Pakistan in the UAE.

Not only will Alastair Cook’s men be motivated by the chance to prove they are a real threat in all conditions, but there is the small matter of a 3-0 whitewash in 2012 to avenge too.

They say modern-day Test cricket is weighted towards the home side and Pakistan’s residency in the UAE is a prime example of that.

No visiting side has won a Test series there since Pakistan bedded down in 2010 and only three Tests matches have gone the way of away sides in that time – to South Africa, Sri Lanka and New Zealand.

With England’s new fearless approach to the game, Cook will be confident that he has the tools to make history in the three-Test series.

Only two real question marks hang over the makeup of the side. How many spinners will be selected and who will open the batting with Cook now Adam Lyth has been dropped?

The selectors could kill those two birds with one stone by moving Moeen Ali up to the top of the order and bring in leg-spinner Adil Rashid to bat at number eight.

However, Alex Hales is the direct replacement for Lyth in the travellers’ squad and if he gets the nod to partner his skipper, England must find a new middle-order spot for Ali if they want to include Rashid as well.

Ladbrokes unsurprisingly make Pakistan 10/11 favourites to win the series, with the Three Lions a 5/2 chance and a deadlocked result priced at 11/4.

A repeat of the 2012 3-0 whitewash can be backed at 6/1, while a slim 1-0 England win looks appealing at 12s.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.