England vs Pakistan 1st Test preview: Ball to debut for hosts as Amir makes Test comeback

England and Pakistan meet in the first of their four Test matches this summer at Lord's

England vs Pakistan 1st Test preview: Ball to debut for hosts as Amir makes Test comeback
England and Pakistan get their Test series underway at Lord's on Thursday (image via: InvestecCricketTwitter)

Lord's plays host to the highly anticipated Test match return of Mohammad Amir when Pakistan meet England in the first of four Test matches this summer. 

Having been banned for his part in the spot-fixing scandal which rocked cricket six years ago, Amir will line-up against the same opposition at the same ground to which his infamous act took place. 

The build-up has been dominated by the Amir return, but just quietly England are on the verge of completing a special feet which will see them hold all Test trophies available to them if they can complete a series victory. 

Ball to  debut and Ballance returns to batting lineup as England forced to shuffle pack

With James Anderson and Ben Stokes not quite fit enough to take the field just yet, and Nick Compton taking time away from the game, England have been forced into changes ahead of the first Test.

Gary Ballance returns to the Test arena in place of Compton, with Joe Root set to make the move up to bat at number three. Alex Hales and Alastair Cook embark on their third series as an opening pair, while James Vince and Jonny Bairstow continue in the middle order.

Jake Ball will make his Test debut at Lord's (image via: nottinghampost.com)

The bowling attack must do without their leader in Anderson who misses out with a shoulder injury, with Jake Ball announced as the man to make his debut.

Having been 12th man throughout the entirety of the Sri Lankan series, the Nottinghamshire seamer has seen off the competition of Middlesex's Toby Roland-Jones and will be joining Moeen Ali, Steven Finn, Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes in the bowling attack.

Amir comeback adds bite to Pakistan attack

Having eased to victory over the Sri Lankan's earlier this summer, England know they will be in for a much tougher test now that Pakistan have rocked up to play. 

The most basic of Sri Lankan bowling attacks gave England's batsmen very little to worry about, but that won't carry forward to the Pakistan series thanks to the presence of Amir and Yasir Shah

Renowned as the best wrist-spinner in world cricket, English pitches may not necessarily aid Shah, but his presence adds another dynamic to Pakistan's bowling battery. 

Amir will be under huge pressure to perform, not only from himself but also the crowd who are sure to get on his back. The young left-arm seamer will enjoy the conditions offered to him and it will be fascinating to see how much of a threat he poses to England's potentially frail batting line-up. 

Rahat Ali, Imran Khan, Sohail Khan and Wahab Riaz are battling it out for the other two bowling spots, while the batting lineup is locked in after impressing during the two warm-up fixtures. 

Mohammad Hafeez will open up alongside Shan Masood, with an in-form Azhar Ali coming in at three. Veteran duo Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq who share 165 Test match appearances between them will bat at four and five, before the potentially world class Asad Shafiq heads out to bat at six.

With more than 40 Test matches to his name, Shafiq has still yet to realise his true potential, and he'll be followed to the crease by the dangerous wicket-keeper/batsman Sarfraz Ahmed who's unorthodox approach has hurt England before. 

English looking for revenge following UAE defeat

A series victory for either side could see them rise to second in the ICC Test rankings, and for England a win would see them hold all possible trophies having beaten each of the other Test playing  nations in their previous series'. 

Pakistan celebrate the series victory last year (image via: cricino)

Just last year, Pakistan beat England 2-0 in the UAE in a high-scoring series. The opening Test saw Cook and Shoaib Malik score double-centuries in a draw which so nearly became an England win after an inspired spell of bowling by Adil Rashid

Misbah and Younis each scored centuries in Dubai during the second Test which ended with Pakistan winning by 178 runs, with Yasir Shah taking eight wickets in the process. Then at Sharjah in the final Test, Hafeez hit 151 in the second innings which led to a 127-run victory to wrap-up the series.