England will look to wrap the series up with a win when they take on Pakistan in the fourth and final Test at the Oval.
A calamitous collapse in the final two sessions of the third Test saw Pakistan slump to their second defeat on the series as England go into the final match of the series with a 2-1 lead.
Can the Pakistanis level the series before heading into the limited overs segment of the tour or will England claim a massive series victory over their ever improving opposition? Let’s take a look:
England vs Pakistan | 11 August – 15 August | The Oval | London, England
To Win Match
England 57/100 | Tie 3/1 | Pakistan 7/2
A masterful display by the English seamers on the final day of the third Test at Edgbaston ensured that they can’t lose the series now. James Anderson and Stuart Broad got the ball to reverse after lunch as England claimed four wickets for the addition of just one Pakistani run, effectively ending the match as a contest.
The groundwork for the victory only really began in England’s second innings where the top and middle order knocked off the 100 deficit and built a lead of 343. Half-centuries from Alastair Cook, Alex Hales, Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali meant that the hosts would get at least a full day to dismiss the visitors on a day five pitch with plenty of cloud cover over the ground.
Looking ahead, I’m not sure the English will make any changes to their side. James Vince and Gary Ballance seem to be finding their feet at this level. Ballance especially looks to have improved in his technique. The last that I saw of him he was playing in the Ashes against the Australians where his exaggerated backward trigger movement was capitalised upon by the Australian seamers with Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc giving him problems on the angle.
He seems to have worked on his technique since then with his County side, Yorkshire. He handled Mohammad Amir well, although it’ll be interesting to see how he deals with a left-arm seamer who has genuine pace – a recall to the side for Wahab Riaz will make for very interesting viewing.
I was also impressed with Alex Hales’ second innings effort. The powerful opener has battled for form in this series following some excellent performances against Sri Lanka and South Africa earlier this year. His 131-ball 54 helped lay a platform that the English middle and lower order could attack from later on, which ultimately gave them a chance to win the Test match – a chance that the English bowlers grabbed magnificently well.
All in all, it was a magnificent team effort from the English with none of their batsmen claiming a century and none of the bowlers managed a five-wicket-haul. I don’t think that Trevor Bayliss will make any changes to his side, and instead will look to build before the team heads off to the Sub-Continent to take on Bangladesh and India toward the end of the year.
Misbah-ul-Haq came out straight after the third Test saying that his side simply didn’t know how to handle the reverse swing that was generated by the English seamers after lunch. The Asians managed to somehow lose four wickets for the addition of just a single run – it proved to be a sign of things to come as the Pakistanis were bundled out for just 201.
While the match was lost, there were plenty of positives to take away for Mickey Arthur. Sami Aslam performed admirably at the top of the order, bagging 82 in the first innings and followed that up with a 167-ball 70 in the second. He’s seems assured and isn’t fazed by playing in foreign conditions. It’s certainly a far cry from the Ahmed Shehzad whose promise never really materialised into runs at the highest level.
Amir continues to impress on his return to England and will be keen to put in a match-winning performance against one of the most settled Test batting line-ups in the world. I would also like to see Wahab Riaz get a run. His raw pace and aggression could ruffle a few English feathers, although I’d like to see him bowl in shorter, three or four over bursts – and in that sense makes him a bit of a luxury player.
I do think that this Pakistani side is coming together nicely and are maybe a year or two away from being serious contenders in the Test arena. They’ve got a top coach and a great balance between youth and experience – definitely one of the more exciting teams in world cricket at the minute.
Verdict: Pakistan at 5/2 (Draw No Bet)
I think the Pakistanis were hugely unlucky not to have come away with the win at Edgbaston. They outplayed the English in the first three days before letting the game slip in the last two sessions. I think Wahab’s return to the side could have a massive impact as the Asians went into the last two Tests quite light in the bowling department. Value here at 5/2.
Value Bet: Sami Aslam to top score for Pakistan (1st inn) at 8/1
I can’t believe that you’re getting 8/1 on Aslam to top score for Pakistan here. He’s shown incredible maturity on this tour and looks as though he could go on. Back him with a medium stake to top score for the visitors in the first innings at 8/1.
Written by Jason Dewey for @Hollywoodbets.