Stokes eyes Wood's pace boost for England in 2nd Pakistan Test

Published December 8, 2022
<p>England’s captain Ben Stokes speaks to media after a training session ahead of their second cricket Test match against Pakistan, at the Multan Cricket Stadium in Multan on December 8, 2022. — AFP</p>

England’s captain Ben Stokes speaks to media after a training session ahead of their second cricket Test match against Pakistan, at the Multan Cricket Stadium in Multan on December 8, 2022. — AFP

England skipper Ben Stokes said Thursday the express pace of fit-again Mark Wood would help counter dry and spin-friendly conditions in the second Test against Pakistan.

England are on a high after a thrilling 74-run victory in the first Test, and will be looking to take that momentum into the match in Multan, which starts Friday.

A confident Stokes said the addition of Wood — who replaces the injured Liam Livingstone — will add some spice to the England bowling mix.

“Having someone in your squad who can bowl at 150 kilometres per hour is a massive bonus for any team around the world — especially as Pakistan is a very hard place to come and win,” the England captain said.

“Someone of his calibre will add to our ability to take 20 wickets.”

This would be Wood’s first Test since March. He missed the first match in Rawalpindi with a hip injury.

Ollie Pope will continue as wicketkeeper in place of Ben Foakes, who missed the Rawalpindi match after coming down with a mystery virus that swept through the visiting squad.

Jack Leach and Will Jacks — who shared nine wickets on a lifeless Rawalpindi pitch — are England’s main spin options.

“The pitch is dry and it seems a lot more muggier here than (Rawalpindi),” Stokes said of the grassless top in Multan.

“You might see reverse swing coming into a Test match a lot earlier.”

The England skipper said he expected Pakistan to come back fighting to save the three-Test series, but added that his side have no plans to change their tactics.

“We will have the same mindset over the next five days and hopefully everything we do can contribute to us leaving here two-nil up,” he said.

Pakistan skipper Babar Azam, meanwhile, said he was hoping for some help from the Multan surface for his spinners.

“This one is dry and there will be spin and reverse swing — but you need to play at your best to win,” he said.

Pakistan have yet to decide if they will select Faheem Ashraf or Mohammad Wasim Junior in their pace attack for the second Test.

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