Third Test preview: England v Pakistan


With the series level at one all, the tour moves to Birmingham for the third Test between England an Pakistan, where both sides will be looking to their bowlers to take advantage of conditions.

Both teams have excellent pace attacks, two of the best in the world right now, and the Birmingham skies are set to be cloudy early on, thus helping the likes of James Anderson and Mohammad Amir find some swing.

The toss is traditionally a bowl first call, to take advantage of a bit of grass cover before the deck starts to decline. The last time England played here, they won inside three days because Australia did not heed this warning, batting first and crumbling.

England will look to skipper Alastair Cook and Joe Root for their runs if they're asked to bat, with Root coming in off a double century at Old Trafford, while Alex Hales will be desperate for a good score after four failures in the series so far.

Also under pressure are Gary Ballance and James Vince, with the latter probably only keeping his place because Ben Stokes is out injured. Both have been below par so far, putting even more pressure on Root above and Jonny Bairstow below them.

With Stokes injured, it's likely Steve Finn will get a recall after being dropped for Manchester. He was lacklustre at Lord's, with Chris Woakes dominating the headlines, and will battle with Jake Ball for the fourth seamer spot.

Pakistan, meanwhile, need their batsmen to rediscover the form they showed in the first Test, though the pressure will always be on veteran Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq to keep things steady in the middle.

Spinner Yasir Shah was also a surprise disappointment at Old Trafford, especially after taking a 10-fer at Lord's, and his team will need him to bamboozle the host again, even without any help from the deck.

Key players

Veteran paceman James Anderson is the second-highest wicket taker at the ground, behind Fred Trueman, and has 31 wickets in seven Tests. He bagged a six-fer on day one the last time they played here, and while his pace is a bit less now after injury, he'll be confident of a good showing.

Pakistan will look to their fast bowlers for early gains, and Mohammad Amir's pace and swing will be vital to that cause. He has had a decent comeback so far, but not brilliant, and this vocal crowd will either make or break his tour.

Last Five Head-To-Head Results

2016 Second Test: England won by 330 runs in Manchester
2016 First Test: Pakistan won by 75 runs at Lord's
2015 Third Test; Pakistan won by 127 runs in Sharjah
2015 Second Test: Pakistan won by 178 runs in Dubai
2015 First Test: Match drawn in Abu Dhabi


England: Alastair Cook, Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Gary Ballance, Stuart Broad, Steven Finn, Alex Hales, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, James Vince, Chris Woakes

Pakistan: Mohammad Hafeez, Shan Masood, Sami Aslam, Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), Younis Khan, Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq, Iftikhar Ahmed, Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Zulfiqar Babar, Yasir Shah, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir, Rahat Ali, Imran Khan, Sohail Khan


Dates: 3 – 7 August

Morning session: 11:00-13:00 (local)
Afternoon session: 13:40-15:40
Evening session: 16:00-18:00

On-field umpires: Joel Wilson and Bruce Oxenford
Third umpire: Kumar Dharmasena
Match referee: Richie Richardson