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England stick with Shahzad

Bresnan, Bopara and Sidebottom miss out

Shahzad: Still in favour

England have retained Ajmal Shahzad in their 12-man squad to face Pakistan in the first match of the four-Test series.

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The Yorkshire seamer has overcome competition from Tykes team-mate Tim Bresnan and Nottinghamshire's Ryan Sidebottom and will be hoping to make the starting XI for the first Test at Trent Bridge starting on Thursday.

Middlesex seam bowler Steven Finn has also been included, with James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann completing the bowling attack.

Eoin Morgan looks certain to bat at number six in Nottingham and will fill the void left by Ian Bell, who will miss the entire series after breaking a metatarsal in the recent one-day series against Bangladesh.

Difficult choices

Kevin Pietersen has been included despite a lack of recent match practice, while Broad and Paul Collingwood return having missed the Bangladesh Test series.

Speaking on the strength of the squad, national selector Geoff Miller told Sky Sports News: "They are all difficult choices at the moment, the strength in depth is pretty good so we're obviously very happy with the strength we've got.

"Ajmal has been bowling well recently so he gets the nod. He played in the last Test match and played well. Yes he had a bit of a (ankle) niggle but he's okay now.

"We wanted to bring Steven Finn back into it, he's had his strength and conditioning and worked hard and we are looking forward to him coming back. We've gone in with four bowlers so we can now go in with either an extra bowler or extra batter."

Miller also confirmed that he and the rest of the England selectors strongly considered recalling Ravi Bopara to the Test set-up.

Bopara has been in blistering form for Essex, posting back-to-back centuries against Division One leaders Yorkshire in the recent LV=County Championship match at Chelmsford.

Decline

"Yes we talked about Ravi," Miller added. "Obviously Ravi had a problem and went away, he's worked really hard in all factors of his game and he's producing runs.

"But we made the decision that Eoin Morgan was involved in the last Test match and for our consistency and continuity it remains. We want to win this game and this series but we also have one eye on the winter (Ashes series)."

Rejuvinated Pakistan head into the intriguing series on a high having snapped a run of 13 successive Test defeats to Australia with victory over Ricky Ponting's men at Headingley on Saturday.

Asked whether Pakistan's victory was an indication that Australia are a side in decline, Miller said: "I would never, ever say Australia are in decline, that is the last thing you would say because that will bite you back.

"We know full well how difficult travelling to Australia and playing in their backyard is. We will have to be full-on our mettle."

England squad for the first npower Test against Pakistan at Trent Bridge: A Strauss (capt), J Anderson, S Broad, P Collingwood, A Cook, S Finn, E Morgan, K Pietersen, M Prior (wkt), A Shahzad, G Swann, J Trott.

Who will win the Test series?

  • England
  • Pakistan
  • Drawn series