Cricket: England hold advantage heading into the final test
By George Marrable
- Hosts currently lead 2-1 in the 4 match series
- Avoiding defeat in the final test will secure the series victory
- Sides head to the Kia Oval to battle out in the fourth test match this week
LONDON, UK – England and Pakistan head to Lord’s this week in the fourth and final test match of the Investec test series.
Anything but a defeat will do for Trevor Bayliss’ side, as they currently lead the series 2-1 after a dramatic victory on the final day at Edgbaston. All England bowlers chipped in with 2 wickets each as they skittled out Pakistan for just 201 in under 71 overs on Sunday afternoon in Birmingham.
And it will simply be the case of more of the same for England this weekend. It was a particularly good test match for Moeen Ali, who was named man of the match on Sunday. Ali scored 149 runs across both innings, and took the final wicket for England to secure the test victory.
The performance will do Moeen’s confidence a world of good, especially with the number of questions being raised about his place in the side. However, despite many expecting the pitch to turn, Moeen will head to the Oval as the lone spinner in the side, with Adil Rashid released to play for Yorkshire on Thursday evening in the T20 Blast.
Alistair Cook is keeping his bowling attack the same for the trip to London, with all bowlers playing their part in the victory last week. Despite no wickets in the first innings, Steven Finn chipped in with 2 in the second innings, and will look to bowl with the same pace, bounce and confidence this week against Pakistan.
In the batting lineup, opener Alex Hales will head into the final test with slightly less pressure on him. The Nottinghamshire batsman passed 50 in the second innings, with questions still be asked about his spot in the side. Gary Ballance also answered his critics with a score of 70, and both will be looking to push on this week.
For Pakistan, they have had to pick themselves up quickly during the short turnaround between the third and fourth test. Whilst coach Mickey Arthur was quickly dismissing Pakistan TV claims of England ball tampering, he has a lot of decisions to make in his lineup.
Batting has been the problem for Pakistan in the recent test matches, with Arthur unable to decide on a settled side. Their long and exposed tail in the batting lineup means they have struggled to add runs at the end of an innings, along with their lack of a specialist all-rounder.
Mohammed Hafeez has struggled all series with both bat and ball, making just 2 runs in 2 innings at Edgbaston, and could lead to changes for the final test. Iftikhar Ahmed could be an option to replace Hafeez at the Kia Oval.
Despite their struggles, Pakistan can take great encouragement from the performances of Sami Aslam and Azhar Ali. Aslam came into the side and passed 50 in both innings, whilst Ali made a crucial 139 in the first innings. Along with the experience of Misbah, both batsman will be imperative for Pakistan to level the series.
With the pitch expected to turn, Yasir Shah could be key for Pakistan this week. Despite struggling since the first test at Lords, Shah has the potential to do some serious damage during England’s innings, and could well hold the key for them to tie up the series.
Despite the danger in Pakistan’s lineup, England will be high on confidence this week, and should see off Pakistan to win the series – and possibly regain the number one ranking in test matches.
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