England v Pakistan, 3rd npower Test, The Oval August 17, 2010

England aim to close out series

64

Match facts

August 18, 2010, The Oval
Start time 11.00 (1000GMT)

Big picture

England had to work harder than expected to wrap up the second Test - and at one stage their frustrations, especially Stuart Broad's, boiled over - but eventually a commanding nine-wicket success confirmed the gulf between these two teams. Now the home side's attention is firmly fixed on a whitewash as the countdown to the Ashes gathers pace; with a little help from Ricky Ponting's whitewash comments.

Pakistan continue to be a mind-boggling mixture of confused signals, but after much deliberation it has been confirmed that Zulqarnain Haider is out of the series which is a major blow after his gutsy display last week. How much impact Broad's throw actually had on Haider's finger is still subject to conjecture, but it adds a bit of spice to this encounter. The Oval, of course, has had its fair share of controversy in England-Pakistan contests when four years ago the match was abandoned on the fourth evening after Darrell Hair accused the visitors of ball tampering.

This time, though, the venue should lift Pakistan's hopes of fighting back to at least give England a decent contest. The ball is unlikely to move as much (although cloudy weather is still a possibility) and it is a fast-scoring ground. Mohammad Yousuf will return to strengthen the batting line-up, though he is short of form and fitness. So far Pakistan's lower order has been more productive than the top and Salman Butt desperately needs to rediscover his form. If the pitch turns Saeed Ajmal could also prove a handful with England's batsmen struggling to pick his doosra.

But it's very hard to see England being denied another victory over the next five days. They have three impressive quicks backed up by the outstanding Graeme Swann. What this match does present is the chance for the batsmen to dominate and show their hunger for big scores. Alastair Cook is most in need of a major contribution after a difficult season, but this England team doesn't ditch players at the first sign of a problem.

Form guide (last five completed matches)

England WWWWW
Pakistan LLWLL

Watch out for...

Stuart Broad made the headlines for the wrong reasons at Edgbaston for his petulant display on the third afternoon when he hurled the ball at Zulqarnain Haider in his follow through, having twice not turned to the umpire in earlier appeals. He copped a fine, but was lucky not to get himself a ban and wickets are unlikely to come as easily at The Oval so Broad's attitude will be closely watched. His aggressive mindset has been supported by team-mates and management, including bowling coach David Saker, but he continues to tread a fine line and the umpires will be keeping an eye on him.

After ruling himself out last week Mohammad Yousuf will resume his Test career and bring vital experience to the middle order. He managed a brief innings during the rain-effected match against Worcestershire where he made 40 off 54 balls but will be nowhere near peak readiness. There is a suggestion that his recall hasn't gone down well with Salman Butt who wants to put his faith in youth, but without Yousuf their top order is as callow as anything in recent memory.

Team news

In a break from the norm England named their XI three days out from the Test to allow Tim Bresnan and Ajmal Shahzad to play for Yorkshire. Bresnan flew down to London from Newcastle to link up for the final practice day, but is only on standby for any late scares.

England 1 Andrew Strauss (capt), 2 Alastair Cook, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Kevin Pietersen, 5 Paul Collingwood, 6 Eoin Morgan, 7 Matt Prior (wk), 8 Graeme Swann, 9 Stuart Broad, 10 James Anderson, 11 Steven Finn

As always Pakistan's team proved something of a guessing game, but in the end they have opted for four changes - enforced and otherwise - to the side that lost at Edgbaston. Kamran Akmal returns to replace the injured Haider and Yousuf comes into the middle order at the expense of Umar Amin, with Yasir Hameed finally getting an outing in place of Shoaib Malik as well. Umar Gul is also ruled out which means a debut for the left-armer Wahab Riaz.

Pakistan 1 Yasir Hameed, 2 Imran Farhat, 3 Salman Butt (capt), 4 Azhar Ali, 5 Mohammad Yousuf, 6 Umar Akmal, 7 Kamran Akmal (wk), 8 Mohammad Amir, 9 Wahab Riaz, 10 Saeed Ajmal, 11 Mohammad Asif

Pitch and conditions

Last year Bill Gordon produced a raging turner for the deciding Ashes clash and played a major part in England reclaiming the urn. There is no need for anything so dramatic this time and we can expect a far contest between bat and ball. Sadly, the British summer continues to splutter along and rain could have an impact on proceedings.

Stats and Trivia

  • Four players from both sides (presuming Yousuf and Kamran do play) survive from the infamous clash in 2006 including Andrew Strauss who was the England captain.

  • During the 2006 series Yousuf scored 631 runs at 90.14 including three hundreds.

  • Jonathan Trott is 77 runs short of a 1000 in Tests, a year after making his debut on this ground against Australia. Meanwhile, Graeme Swann needs three wickets for 100.

  • England haven't lost in their last eight Tests at The Oval and have won five of them.

Quotes

"This is the start of silly season I suppose, people coming out with their predictions. Predictions ultimately mean nothing, it's how you play on the pitch so I think we'll just keep it nice and simple."
Andrew Strauss won't get drawn into Ricky Ponting's Ashes whitewash talk

"He looked pretty good while he was batting at Worcester. But obviously once he starts playing matches the match fitness comes into it."
Salman Butt knows it will be a challenge for Mohammad Yousuf as he returns to Test cricket

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • rajaindian on August 18, 2010, 12:01 GMT

    Pakistan is not even a side that has to be compared with b'desh.Their team doesn't have good playersas the english and its true that england will win4-0.............

  • LeoSaqib on August 18, 2010, 9:39 GMT

    I totally agree with Mir Shehzad regarding unjustice with Tanvir Ahmed. He is best swing bowler in domestic cricket of Pakistan and should be given chance at earliest because he is very suitable in English conditions.Wahab Riaz is a mediocre bowler by every statndard and has performed miserably when he was given chance earliar. His selection in this team is only due to political backings, otherwise Muhammad Samee, with his speed and accuracy and very good record in England, thoroghly deserved a place in this team.

  • antiboson21 on August 18, 2010, 9:20 GMT

    Hi guys & girls. This is WAJ. Waoo. Another day of thrilling contest atleast between bat & ball. Pakistanis with some changes while England unchanged. Will history at Oval repeat itself like 2006, I wish not. I wonder, why on earth pakistan will go in this test match with four bowlers. Test matches are always won by bowlers. With Asif, Amir, & Ajmal pakistan looks up to atleast one more lethal bowler. Where is 7feet 2 inches, Muhammad Irfan? What the heck selectors are doing?. If Pakistan go with Wahab Riaz, i guess they need one more specialist bowler. Three fas bowlers, one medium pace and one world class off spiner, Ajmal. In batting, Yasir Hameed should open with Imran Farhat, giving salman butt some cushion. With Azhar Ali at one down, batting oreder should be like.

    Yasir, Imran, Salman, Azhar, Muhammad Yousaf, Umar Akmal, Kamran, Amir, Ajmal, Asif, Wahab. All the pakistani batsman shoud learn from Zulqarnan's innings of 88. Patience, focus, descipline & will to fight.

  • FIPL on August 18, 2010, 9:18 GMT

    @ Mansoor Shiraz : There is point in having faith in "Young Guns" while keeping the "Tank" out of the war !!! I really like this and is very true. Salam Jutt is nowhere near to Yousuf's batting class and he is just worried about his own performance because if he doesn't score he will be struggling to keep his place in the team. Finally good to see Shoaib Malik out and Yasir Hameed in. They should give Tanvir a chance instead of Wahab. Mr Salman Jutt please don't make it a Punjab 11. This is Paksiatan team and every Pakistani has a right to play for his country

  • Sohail_lala on August 18, 2010, 9:00 GMT

    In my opinion Malik should be IN and Farhat should be out of the team as well. Further, Tanvir Ahmed could a better choice as we already have left arm bowler. The induction of Mohammad Yousuf is not guaranteed that he will out perform, but the has lot of experience and temparament behing his batting techniques.

    One can pray for Yasir Hameed as well, who is on ignore list of PCB since a long.

  • poderdubdubdub on August 18, 2010, 8:43 GMT

    Teams selected on MERIT and merit alone can win matches. Team selection based on nepotism or by brainless/politician/egoistic selectors will always be humiliated as the Pakistan cricket team is being humilated today. The humiliation of this Pakistan cricket team has reached a point where the most loyal of the fans have no desire to watch them play and the opposition fans are pleading for a fair contest at least, wake up PCB wake up!!

  • dummy4fb on August 18, 2010, 8:37 GMT

    Pakistani bowlers will have to work hard in the areas: 1- Try to bowl out all 20 wickets because no one is going to catch or run out or stump. 2- At least one double hundred from Ajmal, Asif or Aamir because batsmen are psychologically afraid of their positions in the team.

    These two are the winning options for pakistan, no other option.

  • Faisee on August 18, 2010, 8:31 GMT

    apart from batting conditions, weather forecasts, and other factors efftecting the course of play we are handicapped to the strange selection policies. having two players making debut in one match against top team in a difficult batting condition wasmeant to create bad image for them in front of all. i believe selction would have been done in a better way but again ... politics is the everywhere in Paksitan and pcb is also seems workin under it only.

  • dummy4fb on August 18, 2010, 8:20 GMT

    @nipun027 yes i think there will be some batter performance in this match like match may take one more session then the previous two encounters :)

  • PakiGr8ness on August 18, 2010, 8:03 GMT

    @Karachi Kid we certainly need to beef up the batting but the bowling doesnt require ''beefing'' they should infact play abdul razzaq thats right- who has experience (a lot of it) hes a good batsmen and a great bowler

  • No featured comments at the moment.