Mahmood backs Root and Buttler to lead the way against Pakistan

Sport360 staff 17:21 14/10/2015
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Star man: Joe Root.

Former Pakistan international and Surrey all-rounder Azhar Mahmood has backed Joe Root and Jos Buttler to lead the way against his compatriots' spin armoury in the United Arab Emirates.

 England have, by their captain Alastair Cook's own admission, gone into the current Test series against Pakistan as underdogs.

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The Three Lions are battling against the searing temperatures in the UAE, against memories of their 3-0 series defeat in 2012, and will be tasked with taking on the likes of star spinner Yasir Shah and Zulfiqar Babar as the tour goes on.

Spin is set to play such a crucial role that former New Zealand great Daniel Vettori was roped in to work with some of England's promising tweakers in the UAE nets, even as the first team hopes to excel against the turning conditions on matchday.

And Mahmood, who played 21 Tests and 143 one-day internationals for Pakistan, told Press Association Sport: "This will be a tough one for England batsmen.

"When the ball is spinning, I know they have batsmen who can turn around things, but they are aggressive. If you are playing aggressively against leg spinners maybe you can get runs but there's also the chance of getting out."

When asked who among coach Trevor Bayliss' side could hit back best, Mahmood said: " Joe Root is playing well, and he's been phenomenal with his bat, and he is doing really well.

"Jos Buttler, I have seen him, Moeen Ali, Ian Bell, Cook – they have such a good side."

 Pakistan's hopes of repeating the whitewash from three years ago took a back step when Yasir was ruled out of the first Test after suffering a back spasm during training earlier this week.

Should he recover in time for the second five-dayer, which starts on October 22 in Dubai, England will face the kind of leg spin which has helped Yasir become the fastest Pakistani to reach 50 Test wickets.

In October last year, Australia great Shane Warne hailed Yasir as "the best young leg spinner", and Mahmood was in agreement, saying: "Definitely he's a game changer. Throughout the World Cup I was saying he's a match-winner.

"He's young, but if Shane Warne can see the talent in him…there is a similarity. He has the potential. If he has the right captain, like Misbah-ul-Haq, who can handle him really well, that's why he can perform well.

"I hope he's the next Shane Warne for Pakistan."

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