On a dead Rawalpindi wicket that offered nothing to the bowlers, England made the most of winning the toss and their depth in the batting to win the first Test by 74 runs on Monday.
However, Multan could offer more spin if recent domestic matches give any clue, despite not hosting a Test match in 16 years. The captain of Pakistan, Babar Azam, claimed he preferred something more lively after scoring a century in Rawalpindi during the first innings.
He told reporters, “We wanted a spin pitch (in Rawalpindi). I gave my input, but unfortunately, it wasn’t what we had planned.”
With seven individual centuries and five 50s, Rawalpindi produced 1,768 runs in four innings, which is the third-highest total in Test history.
Yasir Shah, a former Test spinner, took five wickets in each of the two innings of the last first-class match played at Multan, which benefited spinners. However, the Pakistani selectors may decide to remove leg-spinner Zahid Mahmood, who in the first test gave up a staggering 319 runs for his six wickets.
Abrar Ahmed, who is uncapped, and Mohammad Nawaz are battling for his spot.
Hasan Ali, a fast bowler, is most likely going to replace injured Haris Rauf, who, in turn, injured out-of-the-series world-class pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi.
Ben Foakes, a wicketkeeper-batter, will likely replace Liam Livingstone, who is returning home for knee treatment, as part of England’s injury change. Ben Stokes, the captain of England, has promised that “Bazball,” a style of aggressive cricket named after the coach Brendon McCullum, will continue regardless of the Multan surface.
After Monday’s victory, which was the seventh in eight Tests since the McCullum-Stokes partnership took over in May, he said, “We’re going to play to win every game. Even if you lose a game, it will still be entertaining if you have the courage and willingness to play that way. It won’t always work, but it will be fun if you try. The weather might also be a factor.”
A fog alert for the upcoming days has been issued by the provincial authorities, which can eat into game time.