England Set to Finish Pakistan Test Series in Style
England go into Thursday’s fourth test with a healthy 2-1 series lead against Pakistan after a quite incredible comeback in the third test at Edgbaston. That seemed somewhat unlikely after Pakistan took the opening test at Lord’s, but Joe Root’s inspired batting display at Old Trafford and that fine effort with the ball last week, have turned the series on it’s head.
It’s left England in a strong position to win the series, with the added incentive that if they win and results go their way in the Sri Lanka-Australia and West Indies-India series, they will climb to the top of test rankings. James Anderson has returned to the top of the test bowling rankings after his match figures of 4-85 in the Edgbaston encounter, and all is rosy in the garden of English cricket once again.
It would be foolish to get too carried away, as the result over the weekend was in the balance for long periods, but there’s been much more to be happy about for English cricket fans over the last 12 months or so. Moving on to the fourth test at the Oval, and it’s an intriguing battle. Firstly because Pakistan will be intent on recovering from their collapse at Edgbaston, and secondly because England can afford to draw the contest to secure a series win in this final test.
England’s Brilliant Comeback
Pakistan folded in quite spectacular fashion on the final day, having been set a target of 343 to win, with four wickets falling for one run in a crucial afternoon session. England’s 1st innings of 297 all out was overshadowed by an excellent Pakistan knock in which they reached 400 all out. That first innings deficit of 103 makes the comeback all the more impressive as it’s just the sixth time in history England have recovered from trailing by more than 100.
The second innings really was a “team effort” as captain Alastair Cook out it, with no single player reaching 100, but each paying their part. Cook, Root and Hales all surpassed the half-century mark, with Bairstow and man-of-the-match Moeen producing 83 and 86 to help England to 445-6 declared.
The decision to declare on the final day proved to be a good one by Cook, and his bowlers did him proud with a fine display to take out Pakistan for 201 runs. Five bowlers took two wickets each with Finn recording 2-38, Stuart Broad 2-24, James Anderson 2-31, Moeen Ali 2-49, and Chris Woakes 2-53. Some 10,000 fans enjoyed the action at Edgbaston and they were treated to a remarkable spell where England reduced the tourists from 124-3 to 125-7 in the space of 23 balls. That effectively ended the contest and England returned after tea to quickly dispense with Pakistan, Moeen Ali taking a return catch from Sohail to spark the celebrations.
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Alastair Cook divides opinion in the cricket world, and some commentators see him as a ‘defensive’ captain. The slight nagging worry for supporters of England is that he may not go hell-for-leather at the Oval for fear of drawing the series 2-2, and one could understand his concern in that respect. On the flip side of that argument of course is the influence of Trevor Bayliss who promised and has delivered a more attacking England side.
It’s a question that will become rather more prominent as the test progresses, and the pragmatists may be forgiven for thinking the series win is the most important, be it a 2-1 or a 3-1 correct scoreline. Naturally, since we’re holding a betting slip with 3-1 written on it, we’ll be hoping everything falls into place again for England – who ahve shown over the course of the last two tests that when on their game, they are too good for Pakistan.
Fourth Test Preview
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Joe Root has impressed since being moved up to number three in the batting order, while Finn’s wickets will have restored plenty of confidence after his barren period. Vince and Ballance have both contributed more in the last test, while Moeen’s figures of 63 and 86 from number seven are mightily impressive.
The biggest bright spots to come out of the third test for Pakistan were Azhar’s 139 in the 1st innings, the batsman showing great composure; and Sohail’s five-wicket haul for 96 runs in England’s first innings. However, they will surely be short on confidence after that dramatic collapse, and possibly won’t be looking forward to facing England’s multi-pronged bowling attack again so soon.
England to win the Fourth Test
Starts Thursday 11th August, 11:00 GMT
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