LONDON: Pakistan Test skipper Misbah-ul-Haq elected to bat first against England after winning the toss on a sunny London morning for the first of the four-Test match series on Thursday
Left-arm fast-bowler Mohammad Amir makes his Test return after the spot-fixing saga that hit Pakistan cricket six years ago. He comes back at the iconic Lord’s Cricket Ground — the venue where his cricketing career came to a gruesome halt in 2010.
For all his time out of cricket, the 24-year-old retains the ability to swing the ball late at sharp pace, as he showed with a first-innings haul of three for 36 in Pakistan’s drawn tour opener against Somerset before he was rested from last week’s draw with Sussex.
Pakistan fielded three left-arm quicks Thursday in Amir, Wahab Riaz and Rahat Ali, with leg-spinner Yasir Shah completing a four-man attack.
This was Pakistan’s first series in England since 2010 and Thursday’s match was the 42-year-old Misbah’s first appearance at Lord’s.
After losing the toss, England skipper Alastair Cook expressed his desire to bat first on the wicket that possesses a tinge of grass on its surface.
England had already named their side on Wednesday, with Nottinghamshire quick Jake Ball given a debut in place of James Anderson, England’s all-time leading wicket-taker.
Anderson, although eager to prove his fitness following a shoulder injury, was left out of England’s squad for this match even though coach Trevor Bayliss and captain Alastair Cook were reportedly keen for him to be included.
Ball has taken 37 first-class wickets at an average of just 22 so far this season.
Before the start of play he was presented with his Test cap by his uncle and former England wicket-keeper Bruce French.
England, who recently won a three-match home series against Sri Lanka, recalled Gary Ballance to their batting line-up after Nick Compton opted to take time out of cricket.
Joe Root was set to fill Compton’s place at number three — even though his Test average as a top three batsman is under 34 compared to the mark of more than 63 batting at four or five.
Ballance was due to bat at number five.
An initially sunny day at Lord’s would have encouraged Misbah to bat first although the skies had clouded over a touch after he won the toss.
But so good have the pitches been at Lord’s this season, that all of Middlesex’s County Championship matches at the ground have ended in draw.
Pakistan line-up: Mohammad Hafeez, Shan Masood, Azhar Ali, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq, Asad Shafiq, Sarfraz Ahmed, Mohammad Amir, Yasir Shah, Rahat Ali, Wahab Riaz
England line-up: Alastair Cook, Alex Hales, Joe Root, James Vince, Gary Ballance, Johnny Bairstow, Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad, Steven Finn, Jake Ball