By Obaid ur Rehman
It was almost in a blink of an eye when Lord’s famous Push-ups celebrations turned down in Old Trafford when England bounced back and won the contest in a one sided game. Joe Root and Alastair Cook were the men of moments who outclassed Pakistani bowlers and guided England to victory. After two extremely two high profile test matches, both the teams are meeting today at Edgbaston, Birmingham for the third contest and are expecting to beat the opponent for a notable lead.
Pakistan have won 10 tests so far against hosting nation England but never managed to win at Birmingham. Pakistan has played 7 tests here with 4 defeats and 3 draws. The Edgbaston pitch has considerable seam in it with the new ball and if conditions remain overcast, it would be really very difficult for Pakistan’s top order batting line up to cope up with the possible situation. Now Misbah’s men are hoping to get off the mark in Birmingham whereas British will try their best to keep up the trend of not losing to Pakistan here.
On the other end, if Pakistan batsmen get successful in handling the new ball, then according to expected weather conditions, Pakistani bowlers will probably find the ways to execute their potentials and put pressure on opponents. England lacks batting stability in their middle order in the same manner in which opening batsmen of Pakistan lack. Therefore, if Pakistan sends Cook and Root out earlier then they would be having a chance to put England batting lineup in pressure through their bowling and to regain their confidence which was shattered in Old Trafford.
After Lord’s defeat, England have gained enough confidence after winning a one-sided test at Old Trafford and now they will be competing in Birmingham with high hopes and more passion. As per records, England have won three of their last five test matches here with heavy margins, including last year’s victory during Ashes when they reclaimed the lead. Inspite of the fact that history does not favour Pakistan, Misbah’s men yet possess the ability to bounce back in crucial games. History is full of such kind of strong comebacks made by Pakistan. This time same spirit is needed in Birmingham to fight back in adverse situations and this can only be done if every single player tries to give his more than 100% in the field.
After winning Lord’s test and giving cricket fans a new trend of pushups celebrations, our men in whites got smashed badly in the very next game which have surely made them realize their errors in that test. Four-men pace attack and failed Yasir Shah would have had surely realize Pakistan about their mistakes and hopefully they will find suitable conditions today in Birmingham for them. Either batting or bowling, Pakistan must have to put pressure earlier on opponents to maintain their balance and hold their position in the match. On the other end, England would be looking to continue their momentum of second test and will try their best not to let Pakistan fly high.
For England, Steven Finn has replaced injured Ben Stokes in today’s test. But presence of Chris Woakes with his fiery pace bowling probably won’t let England feel the absence of Ben Stokes. The way Chris Woakes has bowled in this series is simply remarkable due to which Pakistan is more concerned for Chris Woakes after James Anderson. For Pakistan, Sami Aslam and Sohail Khan have replaced Jimmy’s bunny, Shan Masood and Wahab Riaz respectively.
In short, the key focus would be on England’s Skipper Alastair Cook and the other star Joe Root. Their brilliant performance in the previous test was the major reason due to which Pakistan had to taste defeat in the second test. However, as mentioned earlier that England’s middle order is not much stronger as Garry Ballance and James Vince failed to impress with their bat as there were Pakistani bowlers all over them preventing them from scoring. Alex Hales also couldn’t put up a decent score on board while opening for England. This area can be beneficial for Pakistan and for sure they will improvise some unique plan affectively.
Series is tied with 1-1. Third Test at Edgbaston, Birmingham will surely determine that who will be the probable winner of this Test Series. A tough competition is surely on the cards and Pakistani fans hope that Green Army will initiate an energetic start. Keeping in view the size of margin of England’s victory in last test and with the fact that England have quorum of in-form key players, there would be almost impossible for Pakistan bowlers to turn the tides in their favour if England get on top easily. However, there is absolutely no doubt that the swinging and spin abilities of Muhammad Amir and Yasir Shah can steal the show for Pakistan anytime.