Match Tied (Royal Challengers Bangalore win one-over eliminator)
Shan Masood has refused to take England's batting lineup lightly, pointing out the successes of their top-order during the South Africa Tests earlier this year.
England's batting crumbled badly in the battle against West Indies' quality pace attack in their four-wicket defeat at Southampton last week, prompting questions on the efficacy of the young players.
With a fragile top-order and an opening pair in the nascent stages of their respective careers, England find themselves tangled in criticism from all fronts.
However, Pakistan opening batsman Masood believes it would be unwise to belittle England as his side prepares to face them in a three-Test series due to commence next month.
“We should never undermine the opposition. England had almost the same top order when they toured South Africa and they won the Test series there," Masood said in a virtual press conference.
"Secondly, they will have the experience of playing in home conditions even if they have not had a taste of international cricket," he added.
24-year-old Dom Sibley was England's leading run-getter in their series triumph over South Africa away from home. His valuable contributions were assisted by the likes of Zak Crawley and Ollie Pope, who have now cemented a spot in the England side.
Masood also felt England would be helped by match practice gained from their ongoing contests against West Indies but said Pakistan's players would get a chance to study their opposition thoroughly.
“They will be at an advantage having played three Test matches. There is no substitute for match practice so England will benefit from this.
"However, we have to work on everything that we can control, like planning how to take 20 wickets and put 300-400 runs on the board. At the end of the day, we have to focus on our preparations."
"Whatever strengths they possess, we can analyse their performances in depth. These things balance out each other. England will have a strong unit but we will also be well-prepared by then," he stated.
Masood's previous Test visit to England in 2016 was a forgettable affair as he accumulated a meagre total of 71 runs in four innings. He was viciously tormented by the guile of England's highest wicket-taker James Anderson, who got him out cheaply on all four occasions.
While recognising Anderson's undisputed status in world cricket, Masood claimed he was more prepared this time around.
“James Anderson is a top bowler. By achievements, he is currently the No. 1 fast bowler in the world so obviously, he poses a lot of threat."
"Similarly, England have immense resource depth with skillful pacers warming the bench. But the basics and fundamentals of cricket remain the same. You have to see off the new ball and carry on to post a huge score after getting a start.”
Masood's meandering career has witnessed a significant boost of late with a cluster of impressive knocks over the past year. Having worked on his technique rigorously, Masood has transformed himself into a vital cog of his team's Test set-up.
He acknowledged England's wealth of resources in the pace bowling department and reiterated his place in the batting order afforded him extra responsibility to keep the scoreboard ticking along.
"If you look at England’s roster, they have different bowlers who can change the situation of the match when required."
"From our perspective, batsmen have certain protocols particularly openers. You try to leave the good balls and there is an onus on you to punish the bad delivery.
"Your intent should be to score runs because you are bound to be dismissed off a good ball in these conditions. In the recent Test match [between England and West Indies], you would have seen that it matters if you punish the bad balls and throw the bowler off his line.”