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Pakistan v England series preview: Ben Stokes aiming for more glory against Pakistan

After beating Pakistan in the T20 World Cup final, England will be aiming for more success against the same opponents in a three-match Test series.

England enjoyed a thrilling summer under head coach Brendon McCullum and captain Ben Stokes, winning six of their seven Test matches against New Zealand, India and South Africa, but they will face unfamiliar conditions in their first series in Pakistan since 2005.

What: Pakistan v England, 1st Test
Where: Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium, Pakistan
When: 04:30, Thursday 1st December
How to watch: Sky Sports
Odds: Pakistan 5/4, England 9/4, Draw 9/4

Fearless England hoping to shine on Pakistan return

After a 4-3 T20 series victory in Pakistan in September, England flew to Australia for the T20 World Cup, where they ended up facing Babar Azam's men again in the final.

A measured half-century from Stokes helped England to a five-wicket win in Melbourne and the all-rounder, who succeeded Joe Root as Test captain earlier this year, would love to follow up with a Test series triumph in Pakistan.

England are 15/8 to win the series against their 1/1 hosts, with a drawn series priced at 7/2.

The teams have not played a red-ball match against each other in Pakistan for 17 years and England have won only one of their last 12 Tests against this passionate cricketing nation in either Pakistan or the UAE.

Pakistan are 5/4 to win the first Test, which starts in Rawalpindi on Thursday, while England are 9/4 and the draw is 9/4.

The McCullum-Stokes era began with some spectacular batting on home turf in the summer as England chased down fourth-innings targets of 277, 299, 296 and 378 against New Zealand and India, before coming from behind to beat South Africa 2-1.

Coach McCullum has promised a similarly aggressive approach in Pakistan, although England's record Test wicket-taker James Anderson - who is 4/5 to take over 4.5 total match wickets - admits that the bowling attack may need to be "creative" on what is likely to be a flat wicket in Rawalpindi.

The last Test match at the venue, against Australia in March, ended in a draw with a match aggregate of 1,187 runs and just 14 wickets.

New-ball bowlers set for a tough time

As England have found out on recent tours of Australia, bowlers who are supremely effective in home conditions are nowhere near as dangerous on flat pitches when the ball isn't moving around.

Mark Wood was England's best bowler in the 2021/22 Ashes series down under so it is a big blow that the Durham speedster will miss the first Test due to a hip injury that ruled him out of the T20 World Cup final against Pakistan.

Six of the 10 Australian wickets to fall in the most recent game in Rawalpindi were claimed by left-arm spinner Nauman Ali and England will be hoping that Jack Leach can have a significant impact. 

The Somerset spinner is 11/4 to be his team's top 1st innings bowler at a venue where the new ball did little damage in this year's Pakistan-Australia Test. 

In three innings in the March match, there were first-wicket stands of 105, 156 and 252 (unbroken), so the 10/11 that England's opening partnership total is over 24.5 could be worth a bet.

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Root's experience could be crucial in middle-order

England are missing the injured Jonny Bairstow, the architect of a couple of their brilliant run-chases in the summer, but former skipper Joe Root has flourished under the new management and is 7/1 to be named player of the match in the first Test.

Despite a lean series against South Africa, the Yorkshire batter still averaged 68.33 in the English Test summer and, having not been part of the T20 World Cup squad, he should be raring to go.

Root's skill against spin is demonstrated by his Test averages of 50 in India, 65 in Sri Lanka and 57 against Pakistan in the UAE.

And his experience will be vital given that England's middle-order batting options include Test rookies Will Jacks and Liam Livingstone, as well as Harry Brook, who has one cap, and Ben Duckett, whose most recent appearance came in 2016.

Root is 5/6 to get over 104.5 points on the player performance market in the first Test and he could also chip in with his useful off-spin bowling, having taken a career-best 5-8 against India in Ahmedabad in February 2021.

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