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England v Pakistan III Test, Edgbaston – Preview

Host has middle-order issues to address while visitor’s problems are at the top of the order

England v Pakistan III Test, Edgbaston – Preview - Cricket News
Pakistan won the first Test at Lord's before losing the second at Manchester
Pakistan will look to bounce back from a crushing defeat in Manchester when it faces England in the third Test at Edgbaston in Birmingham from Wednesday (August 3).
 
Pakistan began the four-match series with an impressive 75-run win in the first Test at Lord's but England hit back to level things up with a 330-run win in the second Test at Old Trafford. 
 
The first Test saw an inspiring century from captain Misbah-ul-Haq but Pakistan's performance in the next game betrayed its batting woes.
 
The concerns start right at the top, with Shan Masood and Mohammad Hafeez struggling in English conditions. Masood in particular has had a tough time against James Anderson, falling to the pacer six times in 57 balls since the two teams' met in the United Arab Emirates last year.
 
Naturally, Mickey Arthur, the Pakistan coach, called for a better effort from his top-order batsmen but was tight-lipped about possible changes to the side.
 
"I was really disappointed with our performance at Old Trafford -- really disappointed," said Arthur. "There are credible losses, and there are losses when you lie down and are steamrollered ... Old Trafford was clearly that. I told the guys I thought we were warriors at Lord's. We were completely the opposite at Old Trafford.
 
"We've had discussions (on team changes). We've given that position some serious thought. We're very clear on what we're going to do this Test, but it's not for public consumption. It has been a worry."
 
However, it's not just Pakistan whose batting appears vulnerable. England too has a shaky batting line-up dependent heavily on Alastair Cook and Joe Root, who both made hundreds at Old Trafford.
 
James Vince and Gary Ballance are both under pressure to cement their respective places while Alex Hales has managed just 56 runs from four innings in the series. \


 
The home side will also be without the services of Ben Stokes, who was ruled out with a calf injury suffered at Old Trafford. His absence means England could play two spinners with Adil Rashid, the leg-spinner, waiting in the wings for a home debut in support of off-spinner Moeen Ali.
 
England, though, will be encouraged by the superb form of Chris Woakes, who has taken 26 wickets and scored 221 runs in four Tests this season. 
 
"I was thinking 'I can do it at first-class level, why am I not showing it at the next level’?," said Woakes. "You obviously have doubts about yourself ... but it's amazing what six months can do for you."
 
For Pakistan, Yasir Shah, the leg-spinner, is likely to be the key bowler on a pitch that is expected to assist spin. Yasir took 10 wickets at Lord's but only managed one at Old Trafford.
 
Teams (probable):
 
England: Alastair Cook (capt), Alex Hales, Joe Root, James Vince, Gary Ballance, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Jake Ball.
 
Pakistan: Mohammad Hafeez, Sami Aslam, Azhar Ali, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), Asad Shafiq, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir, Yasir Shah, Rahat Ali.

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