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England Selection Leaves More Questions Than Answers

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The England squad for the Test series against Pakistan has been announced, although there is no clear indication of how the team will line up for the opening Test of the autumn.

The openers spot remains a topic of debate, with several players being named in the squad who can do a job in the position. Alex Hales has been included despite a poor ODI series against Australia, and could be in line to make his Test debut. However, Moeen Ali is also thought to be a contender for the spot. Ali is almost certain to play in the first Test given the spin friendly conditions, and moving him up the order will  make it easier to find room for another spinner in their side. The question remains whether or not his technique is good enough to open the batting.

Zafar Ansari has also been included. The Surrey spinner is very much in the same mould as Ali, a useful spin bowler who can also bat at the top of the order. Ansari is likely to be in the squad as back up, as if the selectors do decide to use a spinner as an opener, it is likely that the more experienced Ali will get the nod. An injury to Ansari has also left his place on the tour in doubt.

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James Taylor’s inclusion in the squad came as no real surprise, and the in form batsmen has several ways of getting into the side. Some have stated Taylor may be a safe bet at the top of the order, but he is most likely to find himself batting at five. It remains to be seen if Jonny Bairstow did enough in his five innings against Australia to keep his place in the team, and if he does make way Taylor is in pole position to play his first Test since 2012. It is also possible that Taylor could bat at three if Ian Bell’s poor form does not improve, although it is likely that Bell will start the series in the team and be given the chance to return to form.

With England almost certain to field two spinners, Adil Rashid is likely to finally get his Test debut. James Anderson and Stuart Broad are certain to play if they are fully fit, and Ben Stokes is likely to keep his spot at six in the all rounder’s role. England may only play a fourth seamer if Ali opens at the top of the order, but if this is the case the final spot in the team is likely to be between Mark Wood and Steven Finn. Liam Plunkett has also been selected in the side but may have to wait for his chance.

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Despite a poor summer, Jos Buttler should keep the gloves, while Joe Root and captain Alistair Cook will return to the side after not featuring in the ODI series against Australia.

England will be keen to perform better in this series than they did the last time they played Pakistan back in 2012, when they lost the three match series 3-0. Despite winning the Ashes there are still several players who are yet to nail down a spot in the line up and so it is imperative that if the likes of Hales or Rashid are given a chance they perform well and establish themselves in the side.

The difficult conditions England will face in the UAE means they will go into the series as underdogs, but after securing a win over Australia they should be confident of causing another upset before facing World Number Ones South Africa towards the end of the year.

alex hales james taylor moeen ali pakistan

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