Pakistan’s key bowler and batsman for the England Test series

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If the first half of England’s cricketing summer provided little in the way of a challenge, their second assignment already looks to be a good deal tougher.

Sri Lanka didn’t win a match of any kind against the Three Lions during their stay on these shores, but tag in a strong-looking Pakistan outfit for four Test matches, four ODIs and a T20.

The first of the red-ball assignments starts next week at Lord’s, with England priced up at 10/11 favourites to prevail.

We give Pakistan a 10/3 chance of victory, with the draw available at 2/1. With household names and star performers running through the tourists’ team, a dabble on their outsiders’ price may be worthwhile.

Here, we take a closer look at the key men with bat and ball:

Mohammad Amir

The reasons for the left-armer’s six-year absence from Test cricket are well documented. But back in the country where he last represented his country in the longest form of the game, Amir looks to have lost none of his supreme talent.

In the recent tune-up against Somerset, the bowler swung the ball around corners in the first innings to take 3-36, all of which were captured by the county’s social media team and posted on Twitter.

Alastair Cook and the rest of England’s batters are set for an examination of their techniques if Amir continues this form:

Asad Shafiq

The last time England played Pakistan in Tests, on tour in the UAE last October, Shafiq was one of the stand out batsmen.

He scored one hundred, two fifties and a 46 to average 54.33 during the three-match series and has a fine record during his Test match career, in which his ability to turn half centuries into three-figure scores is a noted strength.

Although he has never toured England before, he appears to have adjusted quickly, with scores of 80 and 69* against Somerset.

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.