SOUTHAMPTON: Former England captain Michael Vaughan predicted the hosts will sweep the three-Test series against Pakistan despite the absence of talismanic all-rounder Ben Stokes for the last two matches.

Stokes was part of the England team which pulled off a thrilling three-wicket victory in the series opener at Old Trafford but is now missing for family reasons.

“He plays a big, big role in that dressing room,” Vaug­han wrote in a blog, although he had no doubts about the depth in the England squad. “Even though Ben Stokes is out I think England will be too strong. England will win the series 3-0, that’s my prediction.”

The Pakistan team led by Azhar Ali dominated much of the opening Test in Manchester but Chris Woakes and Jos Buttler launched a superb counter-attack to power the hosts to an unlikely victory.

“Azhar Ali [is] a young captain in terms of Test matches but an experienced player in terms of Test matches that he’s played. I think that was his chance to win a game overseas for the first time,” Vaughan said of the 35-year-old.

Published in Dawn, August 13th, 2020