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Steven Finn in as teams prepare for 'English Gabba'

Match Facts

August 3, Edgbaston
Start time 11am (1000 GMT)

The Big Picture

"Edgbaston is like our Gabba," Stuart Broad said last week. After defeat at Lord's, England's confidence has soared again on the back of a thumping win at Old Trafford and now they arrive at a venue with good memories. They have won three of their last five Tests here by large margins, including last year when they reclaimed the lead in the Ashes, spurred on by the most vocal crowd in any English venue.

But this series is still just 1-1. Old Trafford was the type of match Pakistan have not had to play in quite some time: asked to field first on a good batting pitch, with a four-man attack stretched to contain England. Yasir Shah's drastic change in fortunes meant Misbah-ul-Haq was always struggling to stem the flow of runs. Pakistan's chances of pushing England in this match could well rest on the toss. Win it, put a decent score on the board and follow the Lord's template.

England will again have to cover for the absence of Ben Stokes after his calf injury. Chris Woakes' form has meant that Stokes' loss has not been as keenly felt as it might have been this summer, but his fiery pace bowling did add another dimension to the attack at Old Trafford before he went lame. His batting, although not especially required last time out because of Joe Root's epic 254, provides ballast amid a misfiring middle order that still has a lot of uncertainty about it.

It will be those top-order batsmen outside of Root and Alastair Cook where much of the attention will be this week for England. The vulnerability - or at least uncertainty - of Alex Hales, James Vince and Gary Ballance remains the major weakness of this side and leaves much on the shoulders of the two senior batsmen. Ballance, on his return, has looked the most secure but Pakistan's quicks appear to have the number of Hales and Vince having picked over their techniques.

Given the size of victory at Old Trafford - and the fact they have a quorum of key players in form - if England get on top early they will be difficult to stop. However, in the likes of Yasir and Mohammad Amir, not to mention the steel of their captain, Pakistan have it them to strike back.

Form guide

(completed matches, most recent first)
England WLDWW
Pakistan LWWWD

In the spotlight

Pretty shots alone don't make a Test career. There is a strong desire, not least from coach Trevor Bayliss, for James Vince to make it as a Test batsman but so far there has been the occasional moment of style but very little substance. He had a perfect platform at Old Trafford to take advantage of good batting conditions yet once again fell to an edged drive - what has already become a signature dismissal. England will need to consider rebalancing their side when they get to the subcontinent, so time is running out for Vince to ensure he is not the fall guy should a batsman make way.

Pakistan need their senior batsmen to lift. Younis Khan's eccentric footwork remains a worry, but Azhar Ali's form - scores of 7, 23, 1 and 8 - has also left the top order vulnerable, exposing Younis while the ball is still hard. He was the victim of a couple of tight lbw calls at Lord's, but his first-innings dismissal at Old Trafford was limp - popping a return catch - and then he was beautifully set up by James Anderson in the second. He spent useful time in the middle against Worcestershire, making 81 against a modest attack, and at a time of questionable batting talent coming through for Pakistan they can ill-afford Azhar not to deliver.

Team news

Steven Finn returns to the side to replace Stokes on the ground where he made his match-winning comeback against Australia last year. Cook said it was a tight call between him and Jake Ball: "I was awake at 2am thinking about."

England (probable) 1 Alastair Cook (capt), 2 Alex Hales, 3 Joe Root, 4 James Vince, 5 Gary Ballance, 6 Jonny Bairstow (wk), 7 Moeen Ali, 8 Chris Woakes, 9 Stuart Broad, 10 Steven Finn, 11 James Anderson

Sami Aslam, the 20-year-old batsman, is set to replace Shan Masood at the top of the order as Pakistan concede they can't accommodate Anderson's bunny any longer. There may also be a change in the pace attack, with consideration being given to Sohail Khan replacing Wahab Riaz.

Pakistan (probable) 1 Mohammad Hafeez, 2 Sami Aslam, 3 Azhar Ali, 4 Younis Khan, 5 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), 6 Asad Shafiq, 7 Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), 8 Yasir Shah, Wahab Riaz/Sohail Khan, 10 Mohammad Amir, 11 Rahat Ali

Pitch and conditions

There was substantial rain over Monday night into Tuesday but the forecast for the game is good. Cook said that there was a decent covering of grass on the surface. In the County Championship this season, the pitches have ranged from the lively (against Somerset) to the dead (against Hampshire). It is not expected to break up as the game progresses.

Stats and trivia

  • This will be England's 500th Test match on home soil.

  • Pakistan lost by nine wickets at this ground in 2010 after being bowled out for 72 in their first innings: the England pace attack was Anderson, Broad and Finn. England's last defeat here was in 2008 against South Africa.

  • Cook needs one century to reach 30 in Test cricket; Wahab needs two wickets for 50 and Rahat Ali four wickets for 50.

  • The most wickets for an England bowler in a series against Pakistan is Anderson's 23 in 2010 - Woakes currently has 18.

Quotes

"He's going to be a danger, there's no doubt about that, and he will have learned from his experience up at Old Trafford, that's what happens when you have a tough game. That's the beauty of a series. He can bounce back now and perhaps pose a different challenge but if we play him like we did at Old Trafford and have that same kind of game-plan we should play him better than at Lord's."
Alastair Cook knows England can't take their eye off the ball with Yasir Shah

"We need to really improve. In the previous Test match we let them score heavily on the first two days and couldn't put pressure on them. It's difficult to come back from 600 runs but still we could have done better with the bat. We got starts, 20s, 30s and 40, but we need to go big."
Misbah-ul-Haq wants bigger contributions from his batsmen