England v Pakistan 3rd Test: Rampant Root, Woakes wickets soften Stokes absence
Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | July 31, 2016
England v Pakistan
- Third Test of four
- Wednesday, August 3rd to Sunday, August 7th
- Play starts: 11:00 BST
- Edgbaston, Birmingham
- Live on Sky Sports 2
Brutal Root batting should establish England series lead
A 330-run victory over Pakistan for England last time out at Old Trafford came courtesy of Joe Root, levelling this four-Test series at one win apiece.
Give or take a boundary, Yorkshireman Root literally proved the difference between the sides, first putting together a career-best innings of 254 before following up with an unbeaten 71 to give him a cumulative second Test total of 325.
England coach Trevor Bayliss must be blessing the cricket gods for having furnished him with such a talent that does damage at the crease, and it’s little wonder Root is the subject of Coral’s 5/1 enhanced wincast now the series moves on to Edgbaston.
This price on Root leading with the bat once more in the hosts’ first innings – en route to another victory over Pakistan – has much more appeal than England’s odds-on 1/2 status as outright match betting favourites.
Touring bowlers had no answer
Yasir Shah – so promising with the ball for Pakistan in the series opener at Lord’s – bowled 63 gruelling overs at Old Trafford, giving away a total of 266 runs for a single wicket across both England innings.
He had no way of stopping rampant Root and his fellow touring attackers similarly struggled, with recently returned Mohammad Amir boasting the best economy and Wahab Riaz eventually claiming the prize wicket after a stand of more than five hours from and 400 deliveries at Root.
Spinner Shah shall have to do better in Birmingham to live up to being 2/1 favourite in the best Pakistan bowler market, so there is more to like about siding with Amir (5/2) or Riaz (4/1) for the first innings.
Pakistan’s attack must go back to the drawing board for ideas to better rattle through the England top order and that’s why the tourists are 4/1 match outsiders, though they will be encouraged by the absence of home team all-rounder Ben Stokes.
Woakes form means hosts can cope without Stokes
Although a blow to England, this is the third occasion in the last nine months where injury has left Stokes unable to play. His calf problem follows shoulder and knee injuries, sustained last autumn and in late spring respectively.
It gives head coach Bayliss a bowling selection choice, and he has opted for the pace of Steven Finn, who took career-best figures of 6-79 against Australia when last seen at Edgbaston.
Chris Woakes comes into this Test on his home county ground with seven wickets (4-67 and 3-41) during the second Test to cement his place. Paceman Finn could well repeat as best England bowler for the first innings, so take the 11/4 price on offer.
Moeen Ali is another Birmingham native, yet he is not fancied at 6/1 in that market despite claiming five Old Trafford victims. As England’s all-time leading wicket taker, James Anderson remains 5/2 favourite to be best with the ball, while Finn is 7/2.
Veteran Misbah still best at crease
Although 42 years of age, Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq is one of the few touring batsman to come out of the series so far with any credit.
No other Pakistan player has managed consecutive 50s (114 and 52) from first innings action, so Misbah is the man to side with at 7/2 to be best with the bat again for his country.
While it is hard to envisage the tourists being any worse at the crease, their top order must do more to support the skipper, who usually comes in at five.
Opener Mohammed Hafeez has twice compiled scores of 40 plus in innings over in England, so may be an alternative as best Pakistan batsman at 9/2 – if grand old man Misbah misfires.
Coral’s top tip: Should Root replicate his irrepressible form at the crease, then the 5/1 enhanced wincast on him being best batsman in England’s first innings en route to another win over Pakistan is splendid value.