Injuries to Imran Khan and Mark Wood are a concern, but the big question is whether Misbah will bow out after the Sharjah game
Pakistan will look to win the third and final Test against England starting on Sunday (October 31) in what may well be the farewell game for Misbah-ul-Haq, the country's most successful captain.
Misbah, 41, has hinted at retirement after the ongoing series, having quit one-day cricket after the ICC World Cup 2015, but has kept his cards close to the vest. Nevertheless, the Pakistan captain's personal form and fitness have been splendid -- having scored 3, 51, 102 and 87 in his last four innings -- suggesting that he can carry on playing in the longest format.
Pakistan has gone 1-0 up against England, winning the second Test by 178 runs in Dubai after seeing out a spirited fight from Adil Rashid, which took the game into the last session on the fifth day.
The first Test had ended in a hard fought draw and will be remembered for Alastair Cook’s double hundred in a marathon innings. A 2-0 series win in Sharjah will not only help Misbah’s side climb to No. 2 in the ICC Test rankings but also push England from No. 3 to No. 6, and the fact won't be lost on Pakistan.
The Sharjah pitch has been re-laid and, with Yasir Shah taking eight wickets in Dubai after returning from a back injury and Zulfiqar Babar picking up three wickets, Pakistan will be keeping its fingers crossed for another spin-friendly surface. Yasir also had the opportunity to work with the legendary Shane Warne during practice on Thursday, and will be one to watch out for.
Pakistan, however, will miss out on the services of Imran Khan -- who took four wickets in the second Test -- after being ruled out with a split webbing, and Rahat Ali is expected to replace him.
England have problems of its own with Jos Butler struggling for runs, with only 34 runs in four innings so far. The wicket-keeper-batsman is likely to be replaced by James Taylor, the middle-order batsman, who will make an appearance in his first Test after three years.
Mark Wood, who was England’s best seamer in the 178-run loss in Dubai with five wickets, will also miss out with an ankle injury. Liam Plunkett is the frontrunner to replace him, although Chris Jordan could also get a look-in.
England, who was blanked 3-0 by Pakistan in the UAE three years ago, might consider drafting in Samit Patel, the left-arm spinner, to provide back up for Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid and avoid a similar repeat this time around.
Pakistan: Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), Ahmed Shehzad, Shan Masood, Azhar Ali, Mohammad Hafeez, Fawad Alam, Asad Shafiq, Younis Khan, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Yasir Shah, Zulfiqar Babar, Wahab Riaz, Imran Khan, Rahat Ali, Junaid Khan, Bilal Asif.
England: Alastair Cook (capt), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Samit Patel, Jonny Bairstow, Ian Bell, Stuart Broad, Jos Buttler (wk), Alex Hales, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, James Taylor, Mark Wood, Chris Jordan.