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'Pakistan have a very good record in England' - Atherton predicts a competitive Test series
Pakistan tour of England

'Pakistan have a very good record in England' - Atherton predicts a competitive Test series

Michael Atherton believes Pakistan would be a tough opponent for England in the forthcoming Test series between the two sides in late July.

Pakistan are scheduled to tour England for three Tests starting with the first game at the iconic venue of Lord's on July 30. Although the series is considerably far off, a wave of uncertainty has engulfed the fate of England's cricket summer given the unprecedented coronavirus crisis.

Nevertheless, if the remainder of the sporting calendar goes ahead as planned, Atherton reckons England will be challenged by Pakistan, who have a good track record in the country in recent years.

Pakistan's previous visit to England, which took place under the now-sacked captain Sarfaraz Ahmed, saw the tourists draw the series 1-1 with Mohammad Abbas' swing shredding the hosts in the opening match. This tour was preceded by a 2-2 scoreline in England in 2016 when Misbah-ul-Haq's men climbed to the top of the ICC Test rankings as a result.

While Pakistan's visit to England pales in comparison to the blockbuster World Cup and Ashes campaign last year, Atherton said he looked forward to closely contested encounters.

"It should be terrific. It's a big summer for England. It won't be as big as the last summer because that was the World Cup and the Ashes, which are always slightly different," he told the PCB in a podcast.

"But, this year, we've got Pakistan and West Indies coming. Pakistan have a very good record against England in recent years in England."

"They're always a valuable team to come and they get good support from the crowds. The cricket should be good and highly competitive.

"We're looking forward to seeing Pakistan in England this summer."

Asked about his favourite players in the Pakistan camp, Atherton unsurprisingly chose Babar Azam, who has been at the forefront of his side's batting charge.

Babar's red-ball credentials were often questioned given his extended lean run in the format but he has established his reputation among the top Test batsmen in the world after his dream run-spree over the past year.

"Babar Azam looks a fabulous player to me. He looks so skillful and the game looks so easy to him at times. I am very much looking forward to watching him play," Atherton said.

The former England skipper also mentioned the daunting task of adjusting to the Dukes ball for a team like Pakistan.

"It is a challenge for players when they come from the subcontinent to England.

"The last two, three years conditions, in England, have been extreme actually: the Duke's ball and the floodlights and, you know, the way the ball has moved around, so it's going to be a challenge for all Pakistan's batsmen, but I think they will be up to it."