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ENG v PAK, 3rd Test Preview: Pakistan hopes to regain series lead

Misbah-ul-Haq
Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq attends a press conference on the day before the second Test. (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)

It has been an entertaining series so far. The first two games at Lord’s and Old Trafford saw contrasting outcomes. Pakistan won the first game stunningly and the hosts gave a crunchy reply in the second game. The remarkable scenes which happened in the past two games acts as a wonderful build-up to the third Test which is set to commence at Edgbaston Ground in Birmingham tomorrow. After thumping Pakistan in the previous game, England back to their at their dominant form. Their batting which let them down in the opening test is back on track. For the Pakistanis, it was a tough reality check. But, with the series tied 1-1, they still have time to recover and deliver inspiring performance at Edgbaston and reagain the lead in the series.

England:

England has a few thing to worry about. The unavailability of Ben Stokes is the biggest of them. The all-rounder was forced to go off the field midway into the sixth over in the second innings of the Old Trafford test due to a calf issue. MRI scans later revealed a tear on his right calf and now he will undergo rehabilitation for a couple of weeks. Skipper Alastair Cook revealed that Steven Finn will get another game in the absence of Ben Stokes. James Anderson also did not look at his lethal best. Although he took four wickets in the match, the pace bowling spearhead, who in a recent interview called himself ‘rusty’, would definitely want to create more fear in the opposition batting order.

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One can clearly point out the weak links in the batting order. Alex Hales, James Vince and Gary Ballance have been up to their best. Had Joe Root and Alastair Cook not slammed huge score in the previous games, the England would have found in a whole negative situation altogether. Hales has scored 56 runs, James Vince 76 runs and Gary Ballance 72 runs in the first two Tests. Their ineffectiveness makes England vulnerable. Early strikes with new ball will put the pressure on the trio.

Playing XI

Alastair Cook (C), Jonny Bairstow (WK), Alex Hales, Joe Root, Gary Ballance, James Vince, Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Steven Finn

Pakistan:

Pakistan will have to be upbeat and look forward to playing the upcoming game with real spirit. If England has shown over-reliance on Cook and Root, Pakistan’s condition worse than their opposition. Their batting order so far has been batting looked dependant on one man – Misbah ul Haq. They need to stand on their own. The problem starts right from the opener Mohammad Hafeez and Shan Masood till the middle order. The age-old problem of inconsistency continues to bite them. If they don’t put up huge totals then the bowlers will have a huge burden on them.

Also, lack of depth in the bowling attack is also clearly visible with only four frontline bowlers. Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz, Rahat Ali and Yasir Shah looked worn out completely, But, that said, they don’t have much options. The part-time spin of Azhar Ali hasn’t helped much. All they can do is to make most of the opportunities that come by. We are yet to see the Amir magic with the new ball. Rahat Ali and Wahab Riaz have been good but lack impact, the wicket at Birmingham is expected to offer assistance to the spinner, this might come as a good new for leggie Shah.

Probable XI:

Misbah-ul-Haq (C), Sarfraz Ahmed (WK), Shan Masood, Mohammad Hafeez, Younis Khan, Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq, Yasir Shah, Wahab Riaz, Rahat Ali, Mohammad Amir

Stats:

  • Alastair Cook with 502 runs in Test is the highest run getter at this venue.
  • James Anderson too has had a wonderful time at this venue, taking 31 wickets in 7 games. His tally is the second highest at Edgbaston. Only Fred Truman has more wickets than him.
  • Pakistan has never won at this venue.

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