A sweep through the Oval
Ends: Pavilion End, Vauxhall End
Home Team: Surrey
Head Groundsman: Lee Fortis
Test Record: 98 Tests (40 home wins, 21 away wins, 37 draws)
Last 10 Tests: 5 home wins, 3 away wins, 2 draws
Last 10 Tosses: 7 batted (2 wins, 2 draws, 3 losses) 3 bowled (1 win, 2 losses)
The Oval is a venue blessed with a rich sporting history, which includes playing host to the first Test match on English soil, a game in which WG Grace scored a century in England's win against Australia in 1880. Significantly it was at The Oval that the legend of the Ashes was born and the great Sir Donald Bradman played his final Test innings at the ground.
Apart from cricket, the venue was also host to the first official international football match, as well as the first rugby international in England in the early 1870s. Another notable fixture was the first ever FA Cup final in 1872.
The venue was the birthplace of the Ashes and has since played host to some dramatic proceedings. From the 1968 Ashes Test when supporters pitched in to mop a sodden ground in time for Derek Underwood to bowl the Australians out to square the series, to Kevin Pietersen's match-saving – and series-winning – 158 in 2005 against the same opposition, The Oval's history is sparkled with magical moments and memories.
It too was the scene of Inzamam-ul-Haq and company's defiant walk-off in 2006 after umpire Darrell Hair's accusations broke the proverbial camel's back.
A spectacular new stand to complement the huge pavilion has made for a more pleasant viewing experience, and the famous old ground continues to be developed, with floodlights the latest new arrival in South London. The most well known feature, of course, is the gasometers to the east of the ground.
Last Time Out
The last Test contested at the Oval was the 5th Ashes Test last year, England had sealed the series and Australia would ultimately claim a consolation victory, romping home by an innings and 46 runs.
England won the toss and put Australia in but an inspired innings from Steve Smith led the visitor's to a total of 481 all out.
Australia would then bowl England out for 149 and enforce the follow on before completing the victory by bowling England out 46 runs short of making the Aussies bat again.
England coach Trevor Bayliss on the pitch: "We saw last year at The Oval, the wicket had a bit in it for everyone. Lyon bowled very well there, got some spin and bounce.
“I think having a leg-spinner will help when the wicket is turning and it will help us knock over the tail.”
Happy Hunting Ground
Of the current crop of England Batsman Alastair Cook has the best record at the Oval having scored 862 runs at the venue in ten Tests.
James Anderson and Stuart Broad are predictably England's best current bowler's at the venue having taken 35 and 25 wickets here respectively.
For Pakistan both Mohammed Hafeez and Azhar Ali have registered scores in the 90's at the Oval.
In the bowling stakes Wahab Riaz and Mohammed Amir both claimed five-fors the last time Pakistan visited this ground.
The forecast looks good for the duration of the Test with the highest risk of rain coming early on the first day but the rest of the Test should proceed without interruption and day five should be hot and clear.
The Oval should produce a relatively even contest between bat and ball, with overcast to partly cloudy conditions expected on day one the team that wins the toss may be tempted to bowl.
The last Test played here was over inside four days but all signs point to this match going the distance unless one of the sides suffers a catastrophic collapse.
Tosses at the Oval have in recent times proved to be good to lose and after Misbah-ul-Haq's misstep at the last toss this might prove true again.
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