Pakistan’s Fight to Draw the Test Series!
England to win!
It was a disappointing moment for both the teams and the fans in the 2nd Test Match where rain played spoilsport. The number of rain disruptions we have seen during this English summer has triggered debates on reserve days and tweaking the bad light rule. Coming back to the series, this game would be very important for the visitors who are done 0-1 and would be looking to win this one and level the series. They have done well so far in parts and match up well to the English side going into the game.
Pakistan has suffered from the lack of confidence as was visible in the 1st game where they lost from a winning position. They lack depth in their bowling and batting is likely to hurt them on a wicket that will challenge the batsmen. England has momentum on its side and has better knowledge of these conditions. It will be interesting to see if the young Pakistani side is able to overcome these odds and draw the series.
It was a fascinating day of Test cricket and after a rain marred 2nd Test Match. It was good to see full quota of 90 overs being bowled on Day 1. At Stumps England were comfortably placed at 332 for 4. Kent opener Zak Crawley being the start of the show with a career best 171 and Jos Buttler partnering him 13 runs short of his second Test hundred. Azhar Ali would be disappointed with the way his bowlers threw away another opportunity after having had the hosts struggling at 127 for 4 seeing the back of Joe Root and Ollie Poe in quick succession. The inexperience in their bowled showed as other than Mohammad Abbas and Yasir Shah none of the other Pakistani bowlers were able to trouble the Englishmen.
England would be eyeing a huge score on Day 2 and have decent batting to come with Chris Woakes and Dominic Bess to follow. Crawley would eye his maiden double ton which will be well deserved. For Pakistan they will need to use the assistance from the surface in the 1st session well as that is when they have the best opportunity as batting would get easy as the day progresses. The ball is just 10 overs old and has lot in it for the first hour. As of now, England is clearly in the driver’s seat and any score above 450 in the 1st innings shall nearly force the Pakistanis on to the back foot.
If England had set their intentions clear on Day 1, Joe Root and his men have taken complete control over the game by Day 2. After declaring their innings at 583 for 3 thanks to career best knocks by Jos Buttler and Zak Crawley, they have put Pakistan on the mat with the visitors struggling at 24 for 3 at stumps. Skipper Azhar Ali remained unbeaten on 4 as James Anderson destroyed the English top order with 3 for 13 and he will be aiming for another 5-wicket haul. With Babar Azam and Shan Masood gone, the visitors are showing signs of crumbling under scoreboard pressure.
Day 3 looks like a daunting challenge for Pakistan. They are still 359 runs behind the follow-on mark given the kind of disastrous batting performances we have seen from the Pakistanis overseas, Ali would be more than happy to avoid a follow-on. Asad Shafiq, Fawad Alam and Mohammad Rizwan will need to play out of their skins to put up a sizable 1st innings total. Anderson along with Stuart Broad and Jofra Archer will fire in all cylinders in the 1st session on Day 3 with the weather expected to offer good assistance to the fast bowlers. It is England’s game from here and they would worry more about the weather than the Pakistanis now.
At the end of day’s play England have gripped the game completely. Starting the day at 24 for 3, Azhar Ali’s side lost quick wickets before the skipper fought a lonely battle stitching partnerships with the tail. Eventually the side got bowled out for 273 runs with Ali remaining unbeaten 141, 310 short of England’s first innings total. James Anderson added to his legend with another 5-wicket haul and Stuart Broad supporting him well with 2 wickets. Joe Root was quick to enforce a follow on given the uncertainty with the weather.
Pakistan will have to play positive cricket on Day 4 and not worry about huge deficit. Ali would want good support from the likes of Shan Masood, Babar Azam and Mohammd Rizwan. They will need to focus on building partnerships. Anderson, Broad and Jofra Archer will target early wickets to out the visitors on the mat. Given the weather predictions Pakistan might still have chance of saving this game and denying England a well-deserved win with. They need to bat sensibly and not throw away their wickets as there is forecast for rain on Day 4 and 5. It is England’s game all the way from here and they would pray that weather gods don’t play spoilsport.
Joe Root would be aware of the fact that it is his opponents who will be under pressure going into this game in their bid to save the series. The English skipper would like to exploit this opportunity and lead his side to the second consecutive series victory this summer. His fast bowlers have looked in good form and he would want his batsmen to fire in this game and make it 2-0.
Openers Rory Burns and Dominic Sibley have had a mixed bag of the season so far and they will look to make amends in this game. A good start from them can throw Pakistan out of the game. Zak Crawley proved his utility in the last game after making a comeback. Joe Root, Ollie Pope and Jos Buttler add strength to this middle order. The plus for their batting is the presence of Chris Woakes and Sam Curran down the order as both of them provide solidity and depth to this already impressive batting line-up.
England might include Jofra Archer and leave out Dominic Bess for this game as this game is also expected to see rains and conditions won’t favour spinners. James Anderson and Stuart Broad did well with the ball in the last game and this adds to the side’s strength. Sam Curran and Chris Woakes will need to make good use of the conditions as there would be a lot on the pitch. Root is likely to play the role of a spinner in this game.
Joe Root (c), Rory Burns, Dominic Sibley, Sam Curran, Ollie Pope, Jos Buttler (wk), Chris Woakes, Zak Crawler, Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad, James Anderson
Joe Root, Jofra Archer, Ollie Pope, Stuart Broad, Zak Crawley, Jos Buttler, Dom Bess, James Anderson, Dom Sibley, CR Woakes, Rory Burns
Azhar Ali would have pressure on his shoulders to save this series. His side threw away an opportunity in the 1st Test Match and the skipper would be aware of the fact that there is no room for error going into this game. His fast bowlers impressed in the last game and this will add to his confidence. Ali would be looking for a better show from his batsmen as they failed on the same pitch a week earlier.
Shan Masood who scored a hundred in the 1st game would look to offer a good start alongside Abid Ali who also looked in good form in the last game. Azhar Ali and Babar Azam have got their starts but they will need to play the long innings in this game. Mohammad Rizwan is growing in confidence lower down the order and he would need good support from Asad Shafiq and Fawad Alam who didn’t have a great game after his long-awaited return to the side.
The new ball pair of Shaheen Afridi and Mohammad Abbas has troubled the Englishmen in this series and they will look to pick early wickets in these favourable conditions. Naseem Shah has to play the role of a support bowler well for the side as the English side bat deep. Yasir Shah has done well so far without much support from the wicket and he will look to continue with the same form.
Azhar Ali (c), Shan Masood, Abid Ali, Babar Azam, Asad Shafiq, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Yasir Shah, Mohammad Abbas, Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah, Fawad Alam
Shaheen Afridi, Yasir Shah, Asad Shafiq, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Rizwan, Babar Azam, Shan Masood, Abid Ali, Naseem Shah, Fawad Alam, Azhar Ali
|Hr||Temp||Rain||W. speed||W. direction||Clouds|
|00h||18||0 mm.||7.72 k/h||From: SSW||8%|
|03h||18||0 mm.||10.41 k/h||From: SSW||28%|
|06h||18||0.13 mm.||11.12 k/h||From: SSW||39%|
|09h||19||0.34 mm.||12.28 k/h||From: SW||87%|
|12h||20||0.60 mm.||12.59 k/h||From: SW||55%|
|15h||20||0.28 mm.||11.45 k/h||From: SW||1%|
|18h||19||0 mm.||10.08 k/h||From: SW||1%|
|21h||17||0 mm.||8.65 k/h||From: SW||5%|
As far as the weather is concerned, it doesn’t look all that good between August 21 and 25 at Southampton. There are chances of rains on Day 1 and the skies would be mostly overcast throughout this game with changes of rains on all days. It will be a challenging wicket to bat on where the batsmen will need to play to the merit of the ball. Fast bowlers would enjoy this surface where there would be lot of seam and swing on offer. A score of 300 plus in the first innings would provide an edge to the side batting first.
Fast bowlers have always have earned rewards from the track at The Rose Bowl, Southampton. It offers great seam and swing movement right through the game. Batsmen have to be watchful on this surface and get their eyes in to score those big runs. Spinners have done well here with clear skies and a hard baked pitch which seems extremely unlikely for the moment.
Teams batting first have always had the advantage on this track at Southampton. While there is some initial movement off the surface on Day 1 it is still the best time to bat on this surface. Both the skippers wouldn’t have much hesitation at the toss and we expect the side winning the toss to bat first in this game.
It is a do-or-die Test Match for Pakistan and they will have to throw all that they have to win this game. Their bowling attack seems to be shaping well but it is their batting line-up that stills has few issues that need to be fixed. England, on the other hand, would go into this game with confidence and psychological edge at having won the 1st Test Match. They have a batting line-up that bats deep and in these conditions can prove to be the difference between the two sides. Rain is likely to play spoilsport again but England has a better side for these conditions which will make them favourites.
England to win!