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England are set to play the third and final test match of the series against Pakistan in Sharjah, starting on Sunday 1st November at the ungodly hour of 6:00am. It’s been a tough slog in the heat of the UAE over the first two tests, and although the first match on a dead wicket tested the patience of cricket fans everywhere, the second test at least had a bit more action and drama in terms of entertainment.
Unfortunately for England it still ended in defeat, but they can take plenty of heart from a defiant performance which saw them get to within 6 overs of a draw, when the game had looked to be all over after a first innings collapse. Adil Rashid, in only his second test match, again came away with the plaudits after a sterling ninth wicket stand which saw him amass 61 runs from 172 balls in a valiant four-hour knock.
Once again, the third test will be a test of endurance for England’s batters as they face up to the proficient spin attack of Shah and Babar, but in Adil Rashid they have a rising spin star of their own, who has been a real bright spot of this tour so far.
After the dull draw in the 1st test, some much-needed excitement was injected into the 2nd test, although England were on the receiving end for much of the game. They were bowled out for 242 in the first innings, going from a comfortable 206-3 to 242 all-out in a dramatic collapse. The loss of seven wickets for 36 runs on Saturday afternoon was the game-changing session which all but ended English hopes of any kind of result. Yasir Shah and Zulfiqar Babar took those seven wickets in quick succession, and Pakistan’s two spin bowlers effectively sealed the match.
That wasn’t before England staged a compelling fight back, which led them to within a tantalizing 6.3 overs of seeing out a draw. They resumed day five on 130-3 and had the unenviable task of surviving the whole day just to draw the test, but got incredibly close to doing so. Eventually they were bowled out for 312 with those few overs remaining, and it was Pakistan who were left to celebrate victory.
Adil Rashid England’s Game Changer?
As stated, one of the huge bright spots of the test was the excellent batting display of Adil Rashid, who belied his appearance at number nine to withstand an onslaught of Pakistan bowling for over four hours. The fact that he was dismissed after a poor shot which gifted Babar with a simple catch should not take anything away from his impressive knock. Coach Trevor Bayliss was adamant that although Rashid would be kicking himself for playing that shot, “if a few of our boys had played in a similar fashion to him throughout the match we wouldn’t have been in that situation”.
What Rashid has done is open a debate in England about the potential contribution he could make to the English side moving forward, with plenty of pundits coming out in support of the leg-spinner. After what was a disastrous debut in the 1st test where he was hit for 163 runs without a wicket in the first innings – the worst figures of a test debutant ever – he went on to take 5-64 in a hugely impressive bowling display in the second innings.
Once again he proved his worth to the side in the 2nd test, despite very modest figures of 1-84 and 1-107 with the ball, he put together a 60 partnership with Broad, and a 50 partnership with Wood – the highest ninth wicket stand in a fourth innings in test history.
Adil Rashid is worth a punt for top England bowler at 7/2 4.50 +350 3.50 3.50 -0.29 with BoyleSports
The leg-spinner has been described as a ‘rare breed‘ among English cricketers, with very few bowlers able to produce leg-spin of the highest quality. Indeed, the last English leg-spinner to take five wickets in an innings was Lancashire’s Tommy Greenhough some 56 years ago. That puts Rashid’s performance into perspective, and he looks to be at the start of a long and exciting England career.
Yasir Shah Leading Pakistan’s Attack
Another top spin bowler who has already established his test credentials is Yasir Shah, and after backing him to be Pakistan’s top bowler in the first test – which he was unable to play in after sustaining an injury on the eve of the test – he went on to top bowl with 8 wickets in the 2nd test.
Third Test Options
England have some doubts over Alistair Cook after he was seen to be limping while running between the stumps during their second innings on Sunday. Coach Paul Farbrace offered the surprising opinion that he was ‘fine’ despite his obvious discomfort, and it would appear that he will line up for the 3rd test this week. Jos Butler may not be so fortunate, and Trevor Bayliss admitted that his position as wicket-keeper/batsman could be under pressure after scoring just 34 runs at an average of 8.50 during this series.
Despite the problems, England can still be backed to grab a draw for the second time in this three-test series. We took the 11/8 2.38 +138 1.38 1.38 -0.72 on Pakistan winning the second test, but they appear a little too short to make it 2-0 here. If England can avoid the sort of collapse that led to their demise in the 2nd test, there’s no reason why they can’t stand firm with the bat and slog it out for a draw.
Pakistan and England to draw 3rd Test
Sunday 1st November, 6:00 GMT Start
Odds: 9/4 3.25 +225 2.25 2.25 -0.44
Adil Rashid to be top England bowler
Odds: 7/2 4.50 +350 3.50 3.50 -0.29
Yasir Shah to be top Pakistan bowler
Odds: 7/4 2.75 +175 1.75 1.75 -0.57