Best chance for Pakistan's batsmen
The conditions at The Oval represent the best opportunity for Pakistan's beleaguered batsmen to get their form and confidence back after what's been a wretched series so far. In the two Tests so far, Pakistan have averaged 15.75 runs per dismissal (compared to England's 32.83), while their top six have collectively averaged 10.20, with a top score of 38 in 24 innings.
All that could change, though, at a venue which has traditionally been the best one for batting in England. In the ten Tests played here since 2000, teams have averaged almost 38, with 21 centuries - an average of more than two hundreds per game.
|The Oval||10||3||37.92||21/ 54|
|Old Trafford||9||2||33.28||21/ 32|
|Trent Bridge||10||2||29.53||15/ 45|
Pakistan's batsmen have historically feasted on the conditions here: in five Tests played by the team here since 1970, they have averaged more than 57, which is a 72% improvement over their average at the second-best venue in England. In these five matches, they've scored more than 500 in their first innings on four occasions. Seven hundreds have been scored in these games, which is more than the number they've managed in any other venue in England.
|The Oval||5||2/1/2||57.20||7/ 12|
|Old Trafford||4||1/1/2||33.06||2/ 9|
|Trent Bridge||1||0/0/1||13.10||0/ 1|
Javed Miandad leads the averages table for Pakistan's batsmen at The Oval, with scores of 260 and 59 in his two innings there, for an average of 159.50. In 22 innings in other grounds in England, he managed only one century and averaged less than 35. Mohammad Yousuf, Zaheer Abbas and Saleem Malik all hundreds here, though they also performed well at other grounds in England.
The same can't be said of Pakistan's current opener, Imran Farhat. In his only innings at The Oval, in 2006, Farhat scored 91; in 12 innings in other venues in England, he has scored more than 50 exactly once. Inzamam-ul-Haq is one of the few batsmen to average more at other England grounds than The Oval.
|Batsman||The Oval - Tests||Average||100s/ 50s||Other grounds - Tests||Average||100s/ 50s|
|Javed Miandad||2||159.50||1/ 1||14||34.73||1/ 4|
|Mohammad Yousuf||1||128.00||1/ 0||5||58.80||2/ 0|
|Zaheer Abbas||1||127.50||1/ 0||8||45.07||1/ 2|
|Saleem Malik||3||121.00||2/ 0||10||57.41||1/ 5|
|Imran Farhat||1||91.00||0/ 1||6||23.83||0/ 1|
|Inzamam-ul-Haq||2||33.00||0/ 0||11||43.55||2/ 5|
Pakistan will surely be encouraged by these numbers, but England will fancy their chances of sealing the series at a venue where they haven't lost any of their last eight Tests, and have won five of them. A win against Pakistan will give them a hattrick of wins here, following the defeats of South Africa and Australia in the last two seasons. The last team to beat England at this venue was Australia, way back in 2001. Pakistan's most recent memory, on the other hand, was much more unpleasant, with the forfeiture in 2006 handing England victory after they trailed by 331 in the first innings.
England's current batsmen, though, don't have such a great record at The Oval. Kevin Pietersen has scored three hundreds, and has topped 90 in each Test that he has played here, but Paul Collingwood only averages 32.62, with no century in ten innings.
|Jonathan Trott||1||160||80.00||1/ 0|
|Kevin Pietersen||4||523||69.08||3/ 1|
|Andrew Strauss||6||468||42.54||1/ 4|
|Alastair Cook||4||352||44.00||0/ 3|
|Paul Collingwood||5||261||32.62||0/ 2|
S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo