The England vs Pakistan 3rd Test offers a bright respite to every test cricket fan whose spirit has been marred by the rain hit West Indies vs India game. While Edgbaston too could dampen the spirits by offering those teasing showers in between, the forecast for most part of the game reads ‘good’. Let’s get to the game now!
Not much was expected from the Pakistan side on their tour to England this time round. They were expected to be burdened by all the off field talk surrounding Mohammad Amir but the first match saw them use that to their advantage to catch England off guard.
Misbah led his side to victory and the Pakistan side culminated it by showcasing one of the best team celebrations of recent time when all the players performed push ups to dedicate the win to their Army.
England were forced to introspect and introspect they did. The second test match had Pakistan watch on as mere spectators as England took charge from ball one. Yasir Shah was a major absentee in the last game bowling without the zest and guile that he was so easily able to find at Lord’s.
The English batting line up took advantage of the slim and shallow 4 man Pakistan bowling lineup by piling up a huge score on the back of Root’s majestic 254.
Come the 3rd test and Pakistan are back to their traditional vulnerability and eccentricity. You just can’t expect as to which Pakistan would turn up for the 3rd test at Edgbaston.
They could very well come out as a rejuvenated unit but knowing the Pakistan of the present, they are much more likely to come out as a crippled unit than a hungry, wounded one.
The Edgbaston track is known for it’s fast and bouncy nature, something that will test the mettle of the Pakistan batting line up to the core. Apart from Azhar Ali and Misbah ul Haq, none of the other Pakistan batsmen look adept to facing quality seam bowling, something that could put them on the backfoot on day one, if they are put in.
But on the other hand batting first and putting up a decent score on the board could be the only way Pakistan could garner something out of the game. It worked for them in Lord’s, it could work for them at Edgbaston too. Batting has never been the strong suit of Pakistan and thus you can only expect them to match England at that and in no way better them.
So, it has to be their bowling that needs to win them the game again. The English middle order hasn’t contributed significantly in a long time and the likes of Amir, Riaz, Ali and Shah can very well exploit that. But if they let the English get away from them, I don’t think there is any saving the Pakistanis in this tour.
Ben Stokes won’t be taking part in the 3rd test after sustaining a calf injury and it looks like Steve Finn is all set to replace him in the starting XI. With Chris Woakes playing the role of the all rounder to perfection, England shouldn’t miss the services of Stokes to a large extent.
For Pakistan, Shan Masood will be replaced by Sami Aslam and Sohail Khan could come in to break the monotony of the left arm paced Pakistan attack.
England XI- 1 Alastair Cook (capt), 2 Alex Hales, 3 Joe Root, 4 James Vince, 5 Gary Ballance, 6 Jonny Bairstow (wk), 7 Moeen Ali, 8 Chris Woakes, 9 Stuart Broad, 10 Steven Finn, 11 James Anderson
Pakistan XI- 1 Mohammad Hafeez, 2 Sami Aslam, 3 Azhar Ali, 4 Younis Khan, 5 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), 6 Asad Shafiq, 7 Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), 8 Yasir Shah, Wahab Riaz/Sohail Khan, 10 Mohammad Amir, 11 Rahat Ali