Alastair Cook © Getty Images
Alastair Cook © Getty Images

Pakistan’s last Test series win in England came in 1996. They did well in 2016 when they drew level 2-2 and enjoyed a brief stint at the top of the ICC Test Ranking. A string of poor shows, followed by the retirement of Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan have led to their poor show in Tests. They reel at the seventh spot in Test Rankings, two below England. A win at Headingley will see them seal the series 2-0, handing them a series win in England after 22 years. They will also climb to the fifth spot in the ICC Test Rankings and the Men in Green are just eyeing that.

However, a defeat will see England slump to the seventh spot in Test Rankings. Having suffered series defeats in Australia and New Zealand, a home series loss will destroy their morale ahead of the series against India. Former captain Alastair Cook has warned members of the side that their careers are on line if they are unable to reverse their form.

Cook scored 70 in the first innings in the first Test at Lord’s. However, he has failed to put up 100 runs in his last 6 innings. He is set to break Allan Border’s record for most consecutive Tests on Friday.  He urged his teammates to “stick together”.

“We need to play better,” Cook said in his Sky Sports column. “Test futures are on the line. It’s never great when you lose, even more so playing the way we did at Lord’s. It’s a frustrating time for us at the moment as a side; we’re not playing well.

“If you want to play cricket for England, you’ve got to deliver, otherwise we’ll be looking for other employment. That’s the nature of the beast and, fundamentally, we’re not producing out in the middle.

“But we have to stick together as a group. The last thing you can do is play the blame game, and the trick is now to not carry the negatives from the first Test with us to Headingley.

Mohammad Aamer: Winning series in England will be the best memory of my life
Mohammad Aamer: Winning series in England will be the best memory of my life

“Again, that’s another thing easier said than done. But clearly we are not going to lose every game of cricket ever, it is going to turn around at some stage, and it’s down to us to do that.

Cook is disappointed for his dropped opening partner Mark Stoneman but expressed confidence in Keaton Jennings, who replaced the former.

“It’s tough on Mark Stoneman. It’s horrible. Playing for England is these guys’ dreams, so it’s not nice seeing people dropped. I spoke to him on Monday; he was obviously disappointed, as you’d expect, but he has to now go away, score runs and look at areas in which he can improve his game.

“It gives Keaton a great opportunity, and we just need people to grab these opportunities with both hands and to start pushing this side forward, like Jos Buttler and Dom Bess – on debut – did at Lord’s.

“He is a very level-headed guy and seems very suited to Test level, in terms of his mental approach. He got a hundred on debut, which shows he can play, but then against a good South African side last summer things just didn’t quite go his way.”