SOUTHAMPTON, England – After rain and bad light hindered play for most of the second Test, the series remains 1-0 in England’s favour going into the final match starting at The Rose Bowl, Southampton from Friday.
While England are on the verge of completing another series victory in the home summer, Pakistan, who haven’t lost a series in the country since the end of 2010, will look to maintain their record.
There’s a bigger picture that the teams will also be eyeing: the ICC World Test Championship. England are placed third behind India and Australia with 279 points. A win will take them past Australia into second position.
Pakistan, on the other hand, are fifth with 153 points. A win will take them above New Zealand to fourth, but they will still be quite a distance behind third-placed England.
Pakistan gave a game to Fawad Alam ahead of Shadab Khan to strengthen the batting, but the veteran domestic batter was dismissed for a four-ball duck in Pakistan’s only innings. It’s too small a sample size to go back on their plans, so it is likely that they will field the same team for the final Test.
If they do ponder a change, it could be rotating out one of the pace bowlers, but that seems unlikely given how they have fared in the series so far.
England replaced Ben Stokes with Zak Crawley, and as he did against West Indies in Southampton last month, the Kent batsman impressed with a half-century.
The only change England might ponder is rotating their seamers, although they had minimal workload in the last Test, to bring in Mark Wood or Jofra Archer to add some pace to the bowling attack.
However, with the forecast not overly great for a few days of the third Test, England might stick to Anderson, who was masterful with the ball in Pakistan’s first innings in the second Test.
Remember the last time
The bowling attacks were in excellent rhythm in the second Test. While Anderson and Stuart Broad shared seven wickets in the first innings, Sam Curran and Chris Woakes were also on the money. For Pakistan, Shaheen Afridi and Mohammad Abbas were sharp with the new ball while Naseem Shah, as usual, bowled with good pace.
England extended their unbeaten streak in home Test series to 13 with the draw in the second Test guaranteeing that Pakistan could not claim the series. Their last series loss at home came against Sri Lanka in 2014. Since then, excluding the ongoing series, they have won eight Test series and drawn four.
Pakistan last won an away Test match in 2018, against England. Since then, they have lost six successive away games – three in South Africa, two in Australia and one this series in England – before rain forced a draw in the last Test.
What they said
Waqar Younis, Pakistan bowling coach: “Conditions were tough, Rizwan played a brave, positive and calculated knock. It’s not easy batting with the tail, but he added small partnerships and got Pakistan to a total where we all were feeling confident and were in the game.”
Jonathan Trott, England batting coach: “It is about going out there and combating the conditions we find out there and both are capable of doing that. We’ve seen them both [Sibley and Crawley] bat time in the first class game and Dom Sibley in Test match cricket so we’d like to see some more of that.” –ICC