Wounded Pakistan’s battle to save series at Southampton!
England to win!
It has been a fascinating summer so far in England where we have seen great contest between the bat and the ball. The 1st Test Match between hosts England and Pakistan in Manchester was surely the most contested one so far. In a game where the balance shifted regularly before England achieved a great win by 3 wickets after having been put to the mat by the Pakistanis in the 1st innings. Having taken a 1-0 lead in the series the hosts would be aiming for a series win here.
Pakistan’s old habit of throwing away game from winning positions came to haunt them as they allowed the English side to recover from a mess chasing a record score to win the game. Both the sides would start afresh in this game and the pressure would now clearly be on the Pakistanis to save the series. They showed promise in the last game but it would be interesting to see if they are able to turn it into a result in their favour and defeat the hosts who have won their last three games.
“Rain, rain, go away…” is what would rhyme in your mind as a cricket fan. Along with some exciting cricket from the field, rain and bad weather has been our constant companion this summer. Day 1 at Southampton saw only 46 overs being bowled after Pakistan won an important toss and elected to bat. At stumps, the hosts were struggling at 126 for 5 with the last recognizable pair of Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan at the crease. They had a good 2nd wicket stand between Abid Ali and Azhar Ali with the former making 60. For England, James Anderson stood out troubling the visitors with two important wickets. Stuart Broad supported him well and Sam Curran too has justified his selection so far.
The weather is expected to play cat and mouse on Day 2 as well and we’d be lucky to get full day’s play. Pakistan will need to recover from the mess and add as much score to the board which isn’t going to be easy with Anderson and Broad under these overcast conditions. England would be looking to wrap things up quickly and put up a good total on the board. They are without their star performer of the season Ben Stokes, and the side would rely on skipper Joe Root, Rory Burns, Dominic Sibley and Ollie Pope to do well. Zak Crawley will look to make the most of his entry into the team. Keeping weather aside, England is definitely ahead at the moment.
The game seems to be at mercy of Weather Gods for now. After two days of play, we have only seen 86 overs bowled with 40 being bowled on Day 2. Resuming at 126 for 5 Pakistan have done well to be at 223 for 9 at stumps on Day 2 with Mohammad Rizwan playing another vital inning for his side still at the crease with an unbeaten 60. For England, James Anderson and Stuart Broad have done well so far picking 3 wickets each but England’s skipper Joe Root would be upset at having failed to wrap up the Pakistani innings on Day 2. They failed to trouble the tail like they would have liked.
Weather predictions for Day 3 don’t look encouraging as well and England would be looking to quickly wrap things up and put up a big score in the 1st innings. As things stand at the moment Englishmen will have to attempt at batting Pakistan out of the game in one inning. The side will need a good opening stand from Rory Burns and Dominic Sibley. Joe Root, Jos Buttler and Ollie Pope will need to play positively and make the most use of the opportunities they have on hand. Mohammad Abbas and Shaheen Afridi will need to make the new ball talk as there isn’t much for Yasir Shah on this surface. Given the loss of so many overs in two days the match hangs in balance at the moment
It was real shame to see no action on Day 3 in this game. All that the players and fans saw as frequent spells of rain and pitch inspection with the umpires finally calling it a day with the conditions in the outfield not fit for the game. With only 86 overs being bowled in the game so far we have lost quality time to see a result and this Test Match might be heading for a dull draw even if we are lucky to see action on the remaining two days of the game. As things stand Pakistan is sitting 223 for 9 in their 1st innings.
The weather prospects for Day 4 don’t look encouraging either, and we are likely to see showers. England would want to wrap up the Pakistani innings and put quick runs on the board going into Day 5. With good hitters of the ball in Joe Root, Jos Buttler and Rory Burns the side would still consider it has a chance in this game. Pakistan’s batting line-up isn’t completely settled and there lies an opening for the hosts. In all likelihood this game is headed for a draw unless we see some remarkable performance on Day 4, weather permitted of course.
It has been a disappointing Test Match so far with rains playing spoilsport throughout the game. After Day 3 was completely washed out we saw only 11 overs being bowled on Day 4 taking the total to 97 overs being bowled so far in the game. Pakistan’s 1st innings came to close at 236 with Mohammad Rizwan falling to Stuart Broad who finished with 4 for 56. Pakistan bowled just five overs and grabbed the wicket of Rory Burns. At stumps, England was 7 for 1 trailing by 229 runs with Zak Crawley and Dominic Sibley on the crease.
Fans would be expecting to see some cricket on Day 5 but the weather predictions don’t look encouraging. There isn’t much in the game and it is headed towards a tame draw at the moment. All that England would be looking for is some batting practice and not fold up before surpassing Pakistan’s total if we get a full quota of overs on the last day which seems very unlikely. The hosts who lead 1-0 in the series would like to carry momentum into the third and final test from here.
Joe Root would be happy with the way his side came back to win the last game after the big run deficit in the 1st innings. It was a gritty fightback from the lower middle order in the last game that saw them through to a win with their bowlers also doing well in the 2nd innings. Having already got the upper hand over the visitors', Root would want his team to go for the kill and bag the series in this game.
England’s openers Rory Burns and Dominic Sibley missed out in the last game and the side will need a strong start from them given the absence of Ben Stokes. Joe Root and Ollie Pope are in good form in the middle for the side. With Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes hitting form with the bat the side’s batting looks strong for the moment. Sam Curran down the order would add to their batting strength down the order.
In terms of bowling, the side will expect a good show from James Anderson as he hasn’t been at his best so far this summer. His new-ball partner Stuart Broad is looking in great shape at the moment. Sam Curran, Jofra Archer and Chris Woakes add to the bowling options for the side with Dominic Bess expected to make the best use when the track starts to turn.
Joe Root (c), Rory Burns, Dominic Sibley, Sam Curran, Ollie Pope, Jos Buttler (wk), Chris Woakes, Dominic Bess, Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad, James Anderson
Joe Root, Ollie Pope, Stuart Broad, Zak Crawley, Jos Buttler, Sam Curran, Dom Bess, James Anderson, Dom Sibley, CR Woakes, Rory Burns
Azhar Ali was struggling for words at the end of the last game and rightly so as his side allowed the English lower middle order to escape with a win. They had the hosts struggling at 117 for 5 chasing a total of 277 to win. Poor game plan and lack of aggressive bowling cost them the game. The skipper would like to put all that behind and aim for a win in this game and level the series.
Shan Masood looks in good form after his hundred in the last game and will need to set up a big partnership with Abid Ali. Babar Azam also did well in the last game but Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq and Mohammad Rizwan will have to do well in this game as their batting was sloppy in the last game. Shadab Khan and Yasir Shah add depth to this batting line-up and the side would expect good performance from them down the order.
Pakistani bowlers did well in the 1st innings but couldn’t go for the kill in the second innings in the last game and this is one area they will need to correct. Shaheen Afridi and Mohammad Abbas were good with the new ball but didn’t fetch rewards with the old ball. Yashir Shah was brilliant but the side will need good show from Shadab Khan and Naseem Shah going into this game.
Azhar Ali (c), Shan Masood, Abid Ali, Babar Azam, Asad Shafiq, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Shadab Khan, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Abbas, Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah
Fawad Alam, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Rizwan, Babar Azam, Shan Masood, Abid Ali, Naseem Shah, Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq, Mohammad Abbas, Shaheen Afridi
|Hr||Temp||Rain||W. speed||W. direction||Clouds|
|00h||20||0.68 mm.||2.57 k/h||From: NE||21%|
|03h||20||1.01 mm.||0.81 k/h||From: ENE||78%|
|06h||20||0.16 mm.||0.16 k/h||From: SW||92%|
|09h||24||0.11 mm.||0.59 k/h||From: SSE||88%|
|12h||27||0.19 mm.||1.67 k/h||From: S||64%|
|15h||26||2.30 mm.||3.94 k/h||From: SW||54%|
|18h||22||5.20 mm.||1.86 k/h||From: WSW||48%|
|21h||19||4.34 mm.||0.84 k/h||From: W||100%|
The weather predictions for Southampton between August 13 and 17 isn’t looking encouraging at the moment. There would be overcast skies and chances of rains on all days of the Test Match. Batting has always been challenging at this venue as the fast bowlers get a good bounce and carry off the surface. The team that bats first would be happy with a score in excess of 350 runs in these conditions.
The Rose Bowl, Southampton is a happy hunting ground for the fast bowlers who get good rewards from the surface. It tests the patience of the batsmen and those willing to grind in hard on this surface have done well in the past and have got those big scores. Spinners do well on this surface from Day 3 onward when the pitch wears down and offers turn.
Two Test Matches have been played this summer at the ground and on both occasions, the sides batting first have gone on to win the game. However, the weather wouldn’t be conducive to batting early on. Most teams have been winning games batting first in the recent times in England and hence we believe the side that wins the toss would prefer batting first here.
Pakistan would be under extreme pressure to perform and save the series as they go into this game. With the conditions looking conducive for fast bowling the side will need its fast bowlers to deliver which they were unable to do in the last game. They relied on their spinners to pick wickets.
England, on the other hand, is looking confident at the moment and has won the last three games at home. It is expected to be a good contest but England looks a much stronger side going into this game especially on the bowling front.
England to win!