As the tournaments and bilateral series have started resuming in world cricket, one has to appreciate the way England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) approached the future of the captivating game which at one stage looked unforeseeable. Mainly due to the global pandemic that had put brakes to the cricketing action across the globe.
After playing the three-match Test series against West Indies, England welcomed Pakistan for as many Tests. Now, the Joe Root-led side is approaching the final Test of the series as well of the English summer of 2020.
The third Test will be played at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton, starting from Friday (August 21). England have already won the first Test and would be looking to capture the series while Pakistan would be hoping to equal the series.
Southampton’s weather and the pitch report:
The poor weather entirely owned the second Test and it could impact even in the final contest as well. As far as the forecast is concerned, then two days will witness uninterrupted play as there would be no rain.
Coming to the pitch, there was some discussion that the third Test would be played on the same surface, which was used for the second Test. However, skipper Root has confirmed that a new pitch would be used for the final battle with the red-ball.
England vs Pakistan, Probable XI:
After the third Test, the hosts will take a lengthy break from the longest format of the game. The limited-overs series against Pakistan and Australia will end the English summer followed by the Indian Premier League (IPL) where some top-quality England players will show their magic and also the white-ball tour of South Africa.
Coming back to the ongoing Test battle against Pakistan, veteran pace duo of Stuart Broad and James Anderson will be in central focus. Anderson would be hoping to take at least seven wickets in the final game against Pakistan in order to reach 600 Test wickets landmark.
Mark Wood, the speedster from Durham, may play the third Test along with Jofra Archer who didn’t play the second game. If these two pacemen would play then spinner Dom Bess and all-rounder Sam Curran might have to sit out as neither Chris Woakes nor Anderson would be given rest.
Probable XI: Rory Burns, Dom Sibley, Zak Crawley, Joe Root, Ollie Pope, Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood, Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad, James Anderson.
Pakistan, who did pretty well in the first Test despite losing it in the end, would be eying for a series equalling victory in order to keep their strong record against England. Not to mention that the visitors haven’t lost a series against the home team since 2010 on English soil.
There is no doubt that Pakistan’s pace attack is their strong point, but they have equally impressed with the display of some sensible and mature batting performances.
Fawad Alam who returned to Test cricket after 11 years and registered a 4-ball duck might play again as the conditions aren’t suitable to play the extra spinner.
Probable XI: Shan Masood, Abid Ali, Azhar Ali, Babar Azam, Asad Shafiq, Fawad Alam, Mohammad Rizwan, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Abbas, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Naseem Shah.
Here are the fantasy Dream XI suggestions:
Fantasy Suggestion #1:
Jos Buttler, Mohammad Rizwan, Babar Azam, Abid Ali, Ollie Pope, Zak Crawley, Chris Woakes, Mohammad Abbas, Yasir Shah, Stuart Broad, James Anderson.
Captain: Chris Woakes, Vice-Captain: Mohammad Abbas.
Fantasy Suggestion #2:
Jos Buttler, Mohammad Rizwan, Babar Azam, Joe Root, Ollie Pope, Zak Crawley, Chris Woakes, Mohammad Abbas, Shaheen Afridi, Stuart Broad, James Anderson.
Captain: Babar Azam, Vice-Captain: Stuart Broad.