x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

'England will really test us' says Mohsin

Ian Bell and his England teammates were impressed by the facilities at Dubai Sports City as they prepare for the series in all three formats against Pakistan.

Chris Tremlett, left, Kevin Pieterson and Monty Panesar, front, get some bowling practice in.
Chris Tremlett, left, Kevin Pieterson and Monty Panesar, front, get some bowling practice in.

England are back to full strength as Alastair Cook joined the squad in Dubai after being given leave of absence following his wedding on New Year's Eve.

His teammates took part in their first nets session Wednesday and will Thursday be bringing the opening batman up to speed on the practice pitches at the International Cricket Council Global Academy.

Fellow batsman Ian Bell was among those impressed by the facilities at Dubai Sports City as England returned from two months of relative inactivity, following their unsuccessful one-day international tour of India, to prepare for series in all three formats against Pakistan.

"It's nice to have had a break," Bell said.

"But a month or two into it, you're itching to get back in the nets.

"It was brilliant to get out there. We're lucky to be able to use these facilities in preparation for a Test series - it is exactly what you need.

"We're going to really enjoy the next week of preparation, and getting ready."

England begin their warm-up programme with a three-day match against an ICC Combined Associate and Affiliate XI, captained by Ireland's William Porterfield, this weekend.

England know they will face a stern examination of their new-found No 1 Test status against "hosts" Pakistan, who have been forced to play their home series at a neutral venue but have already proved formidable opponents in the UAE.

"Pakistan have been playing some really good cricket, and obviously know these grounds pretty well - having played here for a while now," Bell said.

"It's going to be a tough series, and we've got to prepare really well for the next week and make sure we're ready to go for this next Test match."

Mohsin Khan, the Pakistan coach, also said he expected a hard-fought series but said it was about far more than just the spinners as his young side eye a strong start to the year.

Much has been made of the wickets in the UAE, with many pundits saying both teams' spinners will be decisive.

"I don't see it as a duel between the spinners," Mohsin told reporters on the opening day of a week-long training camp in Lahore ahead of their flight to the UAE on January 9.

"Both teams are doing well and I see it as a competitive fight in all the departments."

Pakistan, unbeaten since September, take on England in the first of three Tests in Dubai from January 17.

Mohsin, retained as coach after Pakistan Cricket Board's search for a permanent candidate to replace Waqar Younis goes on, added: "I think both the teams have balance in spin and pace.

"Batting from both the sides will be under pressure, and Pakistani batters will have to do 100 per cent to combat strong England bowling."

Mohsin, a former opening batsman, added: "There is no doubt they have a better balance than us. We do not have that much experience but our players have talent and fulfilled that recently.

"England will really test us, so we have to be at our best."