Fantasy Picks: Lead with Ben Stokes, don't leave out Shaheen Afridi

Fantasy Picks: Pack your team with bowlers  (8:42)

Ramiz Raja helps pick a fantasy team for the first England-Pakistan Test at Old Trafford on Wednesday  (8:42)

England v Pakistan, 1st Test, Manchester

Pro Tip

  • This is the third Test being played in a row at Old Trafford, and we do expect some tough batting conditions. With two high-quality bowling sides, the batsmen may find runs a bit hard to come by. Pack your team with as many bowlers as possible to maximise points.

  • Out of the 61 wickets that fell in the two Tests between England and West Indies, 50 fell to pacers, while spinners took 11. The pacers averaged 27.44 and struck once every 56 deliveries, while the spinners averaged 51.63 and struck once every 86 deliveries.

Our XI: Rory Burns, Abid Ali, Joe Root, Babar Azam, Ben Stokes, Ollie Pope, Naseem Shah, Yasir Shah, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Shaheen Shah Afridi

NOTE: We might not always be able to tip you off about late injury (or other relevant) updates.

Captain: Ben Stokes

Stokes was the most impactful player for England against West Indies with his nine wickets and 363 runs. Stokes is once again the captain for us, since he is most likely to fetch maximum points per game.

Vice-captain: Shaheen Shah Afridi

A slightly left-field pick for vice-captain pick but there is a logic: England have not played too many left-arm seamers at home since 2017, only Mohammad Amir and Mitchell Starc. England have lost 11 wickets at an average of 25 and scored 275 runs from 559 deliveries against Starc and Amir.

Hot picks

Joe Root: Root has not scored the runs he would have wanted to so far this summer, but he can take inspiration from the last time England met Pakistan in Manchester – Root scored 254 runs from 406 balls to help England win the Test then. He is also an excellent player of spin and will be key in handling the likes of Yasir Shah and Shadab Khan.

Babar Azam: Azam started the 2018 tour of England with a score of 68 before retiring hurt after being hit on his arm by Stokes. Since the start of 2019, Azam averages 75.90 with four centuries and three fifties in 12 innings. His form could be the difference between the two teams.

James Anderson and Stuart Broad: Anderson and Broad have an excellent record against the Pakistan top order. While Anderson has dismissed Shan Masood on six occasions, the duo has also dismissed Azhar Ali 13 times. Ali, in fact, has just 303 runs from 955 deliveries against the two. If there is some swing on offer early on, Broad and Anderson could have a field day.

Value picks

Naseem Shah: Shah has had an impressive start to his Test career, striking once every 46 deliveries. He has already taken one five-wicket haul and a four-wicket haul along with a Test hat trick. In favourable bowling conditions, he should be one to watch out for.

Rory Burns: Burns started slowly in the Test series against West Indies but peaked in the final Test, scoring 57 and 90. That was at the same venue. Burns and Dom Sibley have been key to setting up games for England and it will not be any different against Pakistan – pick one of them for sure, and you are likely to be rewarded.

Source: ESPN Crickinfo

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