Toss England chose to bat vs Pakistan
Illness-hit England won a crucial toss and opted to bat in their first Test in Pakistan for 17 years to begin the three-match series in Rawalpindi.
Play was set to start as scheduled despite England being struck down by a sickness bug on the eve of the match and batting first could give the majority of players affected some extra time to regain their strength. As it turned out, they had to make just one personnel change to the XI announced by captain Ben Stokes 48 hours before the start, and before the illness swept through the touring camp.
Liam Livingstone will make his Test debut as expected, having been named in England’s original XI after playing 30 white-ball internationals. Opener Ben Duckett returns to the England line-up after six years, having played four Tests in 2016.
“We’re going to have a bat, I think it’s pretty obvious why,” Stokes said with good humour at the toss. “Obviously not ideal to start the series off like this but hopefully we’ll all be good.”
Stokes, seamer James Anderson and spinner Jack Leach were among the worst affected by the illness, and only Harry Brook, Zak Crawley, Pope, Joe Root – presented with a cap to mark his 125th Test by coach Brendon McCullum on the morning of the match – and Keaton Jennings, who was not named in the original XI, attending an optional training session on Wednesday.
Pakistan captain Babar Azam said: “It looks like a good wicket, I think the first one hour and a half will help our fast bowlers.”
England: Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope (wk), Joe Root, Harry Brook, Ben Stokes (capt), Will Jacks, Liam Livingstone, Ollie Robinson, Jack Leach, James Anderson
Pakistan: Abdullah Shafique, Imam-ul-Haq, Azhar Ali, Babar Azam (capt), Saud Shakeel, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Agha Salman, Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Ali, Zahid Mahmood