Pakistan land on the familiar shores of England – their fifth consecutive summer spent in the country – to engage in a high-voltage battle against the hosts amidst empty stands. The previous two trips to England have been relatively controversy-free for Pakistan, a rarity for the touring party, with the home side failing to topple the opposition on both occasions.
With Pakistan keen on extending England's long wait for a series win over the Asian rivals, the mood in the visitors' camp has been fairly well balanced. The players and support staff have been wary of underestimating the strong English line-up and that is reflected from their online interactions with the media. Nevertheless, this has not come without a dash of spice and confidence in their abilities to neutralise the England threat.
We look at some of the quotes that stand out from the Pakistan cricket contingent in the month-long build-up to the three-match Test series.
A touch of aggression and lofty goals
"If they treat me like a small kid, it will be their big loss. Age doesn't matter, it's my bowling that matters -- so they need to take me seriously." - Naseem Shah is not shy about sending out a warning to England.
"When you score a century, you want to go on and convert that into a double or a triple century. This is something I would like to do in England." - Babar Azam eyes the towering feat of a triple ton in England.
"The way Shaheen has bowled, any team will look up to him. Naseem Shah bowls with steep pace and we also have Abbas, who is an experienced candidate. We have a lot of bowling options, but these three pacers, in particular, can trouble any batting line-up.” - Azhar Ali is confident of his pace attack wreaking havoc.
Idolising the best in the business
“I have been focusing more on doing well in Test cricket because then only you are regarded as a fine bowler… like Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram. I am also aiming at doing the same and keep on performing for my team.” - Shaheen Afridi hopes to reach the level of the famous W's.
Babar Azam is eyeing a triple hundred in the Test series in England ??????— Cricingif (@_cricingif) July 2, 2020
Will he be able to achieve the feat against the bowling lineup which includes Anderson and Broad? #ENGvPAK #CricketForAll pic.twitter.com/NzW78nD2Vx
"Rohit Sharma is my role model because of the way he gives the Indian team a start. It's amazing. Whether it's a Test, one-day international or a Twenty20, he comes with a [set] thinking and takes the attack to the bowlers. - Uncapped batsman Haider Ali wants to replicate Rohit Sharma's aggressive style of play.
The airing of regrets and new motives
"I've not performed consistently as a top-order batsman and I'm not happy about it." - Pakistan skipper Azhar Ali offers a candid take on his form slump.
"It was tough to absorb getting dropped from the team despite being a regular member." - Former captain Sarfaraz Ahmed laments his sacking last year.
“I am not satisfied at all with myself, you have to be very honest. But now it is time for me to leave behind a legacy in Pakistan cricket." - Wahab Riaz on making a potential Test comeback.
“I just look at this way if a bowler is fit, strong and loves taking wickets. He can play all the time. But I guess this is an individual decision." - Bowling coach Waqar Younis refutes the debate on the intensive workload of pacers.
Good form pays off?
"I had taken two five-fers here against England in 2016 and now in the practice match, I have started off with five wickets so I am feeling very good." - Sohail Khan is optimistic after two five-wicket hauls in the warm-up encounters.
"I do not fear that there are a couple of keepers waiting in the wings as I am focused on performing." - Mohammad Rizwan is not perturbed by the presence of Sarfaraz in the squad.
The threats and challenges
"Jofra Archer is a real match-winner and a threat. He has strong nerves which he proved while bowling a crucial super over in the World Cup final. He has bite in his bowling and his high arm action is very good and gives him nip in his bowling." - Batting coach Younis Khan singles out the young paceman as the potent force.
“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." - Shan Masood reacts after England's collapse in the first West Indies Test.
“Pakistan cricket team has played cricket for almost 10 years without crowd, so it’s not a new experience for us." - Abid Ali believes Pakistan can adapt to the behind-closed-doors scenario.
The Misbah method of calmness and self-assuredness
"Mentally at the moment, the guys are in good shape because they are coming from good performances. When you are confident mentally and in good shape, then you always can deliver on the field." - Head coach and chief selector Misbah-ul-Haq refers to Pakistan's recent Test triumphs at home.