Leg spin. That was the overriding theme in England’s first Test defeat to Pakistan at Lord’s last week. As the series moves immediately onto Old Trafford, it’s the same wristy artform that continues to dominate.
Yasir Shah played a significant role in helping the visitors take a 1-0 lead in London, bamboozling the England batsmen in their first innings without ever really turning the ball.
By the time the second dig rolled around the 30-year-old was in their heads. He took four wickets to make it 10 in the match and forced England to consider more than a few changes for Manchester.
Among them is the prospect of throwing their own leg-spinner, Adil Rashid, into the mix. The Yorkshireman was part of an initial 14-man squad that showed the hosts are a little perturbed by the threat posed by the opposition.
That bloated party has since been trimmed to 12, with seamers Steven Finn and Jake Ball omitted. It leaves the possibility of Rashid making the XI, either in place of Moeen Ali or alongside him as a tweaking tandem, a real one.
The last time the 28-year-old featured in a Test series was England’s tour of the UAE against their current guests. In his battle with Shah, Rashid unquestionably came off worse.
He took eight wickets to his Pakistan rival’s 15, despite the latter missing the first game through injury.
Any hopes that he’ll level the playing field now he’s been recalled are therefore a touch misplaced. Especially, as Shah needs 14 wickets in the next two games to become the fastest player ever to reach 100 wickets, a record that has been held since 1896.
With that in mind, taking the 9/1 that the visiting leggie plays another match-winning turn and scoops man of the match honours looks the way to go for a game that has England as spurious 10/11 favourites.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.