Multan December 8, 2022: In-form England face a selection dilemma of sorts as they attempt to squeeze all their major weapons into their side for the second Test against Pakistan in Multan.
England put a massive dent in Pakistan's hopes of reaching next year's ICC World Test Championship final when they registered a thrilling 74-run victory over the Asian side during the first Test in Rawalpindi and Ben Stokes' team will be looking to replicate that performance when the second Test commences on Friday.
Speedster Mark Wood and first-choice keeper Ben Foakes missed that epic triumph due to injury and illness respectively, but the duo appear fit again and in line to earn a recall to the XI as England juggle their wealth of riches available.
All-rounder Liam Livingstone will miss the clash due to the knee injury he picked up on the second day of the first Test, while there may be an unlucky player make way should Foakes take the gloves from stand-in keeper Ollie Pope.
Stokes said it was a strong position for his side to be in to have so many options at selection and that he would sit down with coach Brendon McCullum and choose what they felt would be the best XI to win the match.
"We'll have to consider all our different options," Stokes said.
"I think there are a few different options we are going to lay out in front of each other, and try and understand what is the best option to try and win this Test match. Because we have got a few other factors that we have to contend with.
"That's the great thing about where we're at at the moment. We found ourselves in that situation (illness prior to the first Test) and we still managed to pick a team that was strong enough to win a game.
"As I said, we are going to have a conversation at some point about what we feel is the best route to go."
Another option for England could be to hand a debut to uncapped spinner Rehan Ahmed, after the teenager was added to the squad just prior to the first Test.
If selected Ahmed would overtake Brian Close and become the youngest male to debut in a Test match for England and selectors have faith that the 18-year-old is more than capable of performing well if chosen.
"We know he’s not the finished article and has raw potential,” England coach Brendon McCullum said of Ahmed last month.
"But Ben (Stokes), myself and the rest of the coaches like how he approaches his game.
"The experience of being part of the squad in Pakistan will be hugely beneficial for him, and he will add to the makeup of our squad."
And while England are out of contention of reaching next year's World Test Championship final, they can severely hamper Pakistan's chances by registering a second straight win with a series clinching victory.
Pakistan are currently in fifth place on the World Test Championship standings with a 46.67 win-percentage and would likely need to win their remaining four Test matches this period to sneak into next year's decider.