England and Pakistan were frustrated by the elements in the second Test at the Ageas Bowl. Rain wiped the majority of the contest, meaning only an innings and a half could be completed.As a result, the Three Lions have now avoided the possibility of a series defeat, but Joe Root and company will still want to close out their victory.
The home side used conditions to their advantage to bowl out Pakistan for 236 in their first innings. James Anderson and Stuart Broad were on point with the ball, with the latter claiming another four wickets.
Broad has been operating at the peak of his powers and has certainly proved his point about being left out of the opening Test of the summer.
Root and the selectors have a challenge ahead of them to balance their team for the final game. Mark Wood and Ollie Robinson are knocking on the door, while Jofra Archer was left out of the second Test.
It could well be England’s last Test match of the year given the coronavirus pandemic. The Ashes arrive next year and the Three Lions have to have that in their thoughts for long-term planning.
On the other hand the series is still alive and Pakistan have proven themselves to be more than a threat thus far. Mohammad Rizwan batted extremely well for an innings of 72, while Mohammad Abbas was very dangerous with the ball.
The Green Army will not want to leave England without a fight. They’ve drawn their last two series in England in 2016 and 2018 and will be desperately attempting to win the third Test to make it three draws on the bounce.
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Due to the uncertainty regarding coronavirus, England will be unsure when they will be next in action with the red ball. They were scheduled to play in India this winter, but those matches are in doubt after the white-ball series was postponed.
England could well return to the favour to the West Indies by travelling to the Caribbean in the winter to play Test matches. However, it all remains up in the air, therefore the Test players will want to ensure they make the most of their last match of the summer.
Anderson and Broad will not want to be rested for the contest, while Chris Woakes has to play to provide balance. Sam Curran was a tad underwhelming in the second Test and could be the one to make way for Wood or Archer.
The batting ranks look more or less sorted in the absence of Stokes. Zak Crawley took advantage of a batting practice on the final day to notch a half-century. The 22-year-old has not looked daunted at being England’s number three and will have another opportunity to press his case for a permanent spot in the side.
Root himself could do with a three-figure score to sign out for the summer. Although his side have been performing well, there’s always pressure on the skipper to lead the way. Next year will be his biggest as captain and he will want to take momentum into 2021.
After their crushing defeat at Old Trafford, the Green Army were further frustrated by the rain in Southampton. Azhar Ali was brave in his decision to bat first at the Ageas Bowl in overcast conditions.
Pakistan battled well against the swinging ball and posted a solid score aided by a fine innings from Rizwan in the lower order, while Abid Ali chanced his arm at the top.
The tourists have been decent with the bat, although they’ve been dependent on significant knocks from Shan Masood along with Abid and Rizwan.
There is growing pressure on Azhar for his performances with the bat and his decisions as captain. He has only been captain for a short period, but the 35-year-old is in dire need of a victory from his team to ease the pressure.
They’ve played well in short bursts, although they have to become more consistent to beat a team of England’s ilk on the road. Babar Azam has flashed at times, notching a half-century in the opener and 47 in Southampton. Pakistan will want a signature innings from the 25-year-old to firmly make a statement about his ability in the longest form of the game.
Abbas was off the boil initially in England’s innings before finding his feet to dismiss Crawley and Dominic Sibley. He can take over a game with his tight line and ability to move the ball enough to find the edge.
Pakistan will need his best in the final game, while Yasir Shah has to up the ante in support. Shaheen Afridi and Naseem Shah are the future of the Pakistan bowling attack and have the chance to make their mark in England. The Green Army need all four of their bowlers to be flawless.
The second Test was blighted by the elements and the forecast for the third Test does not look overly encouraging. There are reports of showers on the opening day and the weekend.
Sunday appears to have clear skies, but it could all change throughout the week. We have to keep our fingers crossed that we get a complete game this time around.
The pitch at the Ageas Bowl seemed perfect, offering support for both batsmen and bowlers. Therefore – weather pending – we should have an exciting match on our hands.
England’s bowlers were not quite at the peak of their skills, allowing the visitors to post 236 in their first innings. There’s definitely more to come from the England attack, which could have Archer back in its ranks.
The Pakistan attack have raw talent at their disposal, but the consistency has not been there thus far. Expect England to edge their way over the line courtesy of a strong bowling performance in the third Test, signing off with the red ball for the summer on a high note.
England to beat Pakistan 3rd Test – 1.85 Betway