Pakistan look to cash in on 'huge loss' of Ben Stokes from England series

By Nicholas McGee 12 August 2020 4
Pakistan look to cash in on 'huge loss' of Ben Stokes from England series

Pakistan will look to capitalise on the "huge loss" of Ben Stokes from the England side by taking advantage of a lighter middle order, says bowling coach Waqar Younis.

Stokes withdrew from the rest of the series, which England lead 1-0 after a three-wicket win at Old Trafford, to travel to New Zealand for family reasons.

The world's top Test all-rounder had initially been limited to the role of specialist batsman for the first Test because of a thigh injury but came on to bowl in the second innings to help England dismiss the tourists for 169 with the wickets of Mohammad Rizwan and Shaheen Shah Afridi.

England improbably chased down 277 to win, though Stokes was not a major factor in that pursuit as he followed a first-innings duck with nine in the second innings.

However, captain Joe Root is under no illusion as to the impact of his absence, telling a media conference: "It's a huge loss for us. For a long period of time, he's been arguably our best player.

"He offers so much in all departments. He's a big leader within the group - vice-captain, as well - and, of course, we'll miss him dearly.

"We're all thinking about him. But it's an opportunity for someone to come in and try to fill those boots.

"That's always exciting for someone to take on that challenge. Whoever gets that responsibility has to try to step up to the plate and trust in their own game to help us hopefully get two up in the series."

Waqar does not necessarily see Stokes' exit from the series as a boost to the tourists given their bowling performance against him.

But with Zak Crawley expected to come into the side, he does see potential for Pakistan to have greater success against England's middle order.

"He's [Stokes] the kind of batsman that takes the game away from you single-handedly at times," said Waqar.

"I wouldn't say it's a boost because of the way we bowled at him in the previous game. I thought we had very clear plans and I think we executed really well.

"Yes he's not around, it's unfortunate for cricket but there's no doubt he's a match-winner. If he's not around, England will probably be a touch light when you talk about the middle order. We're going to talk about it and try to cash in."

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