Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq has urged his top order “to go big” in the third Test against England at Edgbaston starting today. England levelled the four-match series at 1-1 with a crushing 330-run win in the second Test at Old Trafford a margin of victory that was testimony to the tourists’ batting woes.
It was all a far cry from Pakistan’s 75-run win in the first Test at Lord’s, which featured an inspiring century from Misbah. Poor starts have been a problem for Pakistan in this series. But Mohammad Hafeez and Shan Masood are not the first Pakistan opening pair to struggle in English conditions.
Indeed you have to go back to 1996 for the last time a Pakistan first-wicket duo put on a 50 stand in a Test against England in England. Masood has become something of a ‘bunny’ for James Anderson, England’s all-time leading Test wicket-taker.
He has fallen six times for just 15 runs in 57 balls to Lancashire paceman Anderson dating back to last year in the
UAE. Pakistan could promote number three Azhar Ali to open and bring Sami Aslam, yet to feature this series, into the side in place of Masood. “We need to really improve,” said Misbah.
“After getting starts — 20s, 30s and 40s — we really need to go big,” the middle-order stalwart added. England, however, also look vulnerable at the top of the order if Pakistan can find a way past home captain Alastair
Cook and Joe Root, who both made hundreds at Old Trafford.
“If you really have to put pressure on the opposition, it’s important to get their main players out because those are the two pillars of their batting,” said Misbah. Pakistan leg-spinner Yasir Shah took 10 wickets at Lord’s but only managed one at Old Trafford.
But while his place looks assured, Pakistan could bring in right-armer Sohail Khan for Wahab Riaz in a bid to add variety to what has been the tourists’ all left-arm pace attack so far this series.
England, ahead of what will be their 500th home Test, have made an enforced change. Fast bowler Steven Finn will replace Ben Stokes, after the all-rounder suffered a calf injury while bowling at Old.