Panesar gives England a selection headache for first Pakistan Test
England face a selection dilemma for the opening Test with Pakistan after Monty Panesar chipped in with a five-wicket haul in the final warm up game before the start of the series.
Responding to England’s moderate 269-9 declared, a Pakistan Cricket Board XI could only muster 200-9, with Panesar their chief tormentor.
The left-arm spinner finished with 5-57 in his first display since the 2009 Ashes and now must be seriously considered to make the team for the opening Test in Dubai.
If England do decide to pick Panesar, then they will also need to decide if they want to head into the showdown with four or five recognised bowlers.
Given the struggles of Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen and Eoin Morgan in the three innings in the UAE thus far, there is a case that one of this trio could be dropped to incorporate an extra bowler.
However, there is also the point that if England cannot rely on their recognised batsmen to carry them to a healthy total, removing one from their line-up may not be a wise idea.
If England stick with four bowlers, they would have to be certain that the pitch would be particularly spin friendly as they would name only two fast bowlers, as they have against the Pakistan Cricket Board XI.
It would also be harder to leave out one of Stuart Broad, Chris Tremlett or James Anderson over one of England’s misfiring batsmen.
England are 6/4 in the cricket odds to win the first Test with Pakistan, with Panesar available at 3/1 to be top wicket taker for Andrew Strausss’ men.
Fellow spinner Graeme Swann is favourite in this market at 5/2, even though he managed just one wicket in the innings with the Pakistan Cricket Board XI.