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    It certainly beats the SL series, doesn't it? I'm so glad we're getting this series - especially when you see NZ playing Zimbabwe. To be fair, SL are giving Australia a torrid time, and Windies are frustrating India, which were two series I thought the Baggy Greens and Kohli and co would walk.

    But, still, it's disappointing to see the Edgbaston crowd go home unhappy after seeing a whopping 10 overs fail to be bowled. It's just not good enough. In no other sport would you see such things. Imagine in football, if players just downed tools when the 80th minute came and didn't attack. There'd be uproar.

    Still, that doesn't take away from another brilliant day of cricket. As I've mentioned, I felt really sorry for Anderson. He was frustrated all day - and he was harshly punished for the tiniest discretion. We saw on the replay that it was only his heel that encroached onto the danger zone. There was little joy for Finn, either, who bowled well but just couldn't find that key breakthrough. The drop of Ali was particularly grating for him - but England made up for that with an exceptional run out from Woakes' throw and some quick thinking from Jonny Bairstow.

    I'm glad Broad found a bit more joy, though, because I was worrying about him and his lack of wickets at the close of play yesterday. It was particularly telling that Moeen was targeted again - with Misbah enjoying those reverse sweeps - and he only bowled a handful of overs, suggesting a lack of belief from the skipper.

    There was still very little genuine swing for the seamers - and Cook/Hales largely went untroubled once they got to the crease. The former looked in prime form, while the latter seemed willing to dig in and frustrate Pakistan rather than chase the runs. In truth, it appeared their qualities had been swapped at times - but Hales has made a decent base now and should get a key knock which will give him confidence and cement his place a little more in the eye of the selectors. It remains to be seen what happens regarding Vince and Ballance, though, of course.

    Cook managed to overtake Kevin Pietersen as England's leading run scorer, and that helped England peg the visitors back after Pakistan managed the feat of getting themselves over the line to lead by three figures. In truth, I felt Pakistan left some runs out there and their lead of 103 was a little short of what could be achieved.
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    Another remarkable victory for Sri Lanka. I'm chuffed for them - they've completely and utterly dominated Australia, dismantling them and if the visitors lose the third Test, it'll be their eighth consecutive defeat in Asia.

    Australia just don't seem to know how to play spin - and spin it did. The pitch was vicious, and gave plenty to Herath and Perera (who became the latest SL player to post a half-century and claim 10 wickets within one Test). Interestingly, Perera has also become the quickest Sri Lankan bowler to claim 50 wickets, with 11 matches, beating Ajantha Mendis who took 12 matches to reach the milestone.

    His figures of 10-99 were obviously the key contribution for the hosts, but you worry for Australia's batsmen in sub-continent conditions. This was only the second time since 2000 that Australia had lost half their side before scoring 100 runs in both innings of a Test. Sure, they managed to post more in the second innings than that paltry total of 106 in their first, but the way Smith/Marsh/Khawaja got out to the same type of delivery in both innings is a concern.

    With Pakistan giving up the advantage at Edgbaston, you imagine they'll look back on this Test as a missed opportunity. Theoretically, they could still become the number one ranked team in the world, but it seems less of a sure thing.
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    Interesting Saturday debate on Sky Sports. Warne, Atherton and co picking their world Test 12. The only condition was that the team must be capable of winning in all conditions.

    They opted for:

    Cook
    Warner
    Root
    Kohli
    Smith
    ABDV (wk)
    Stokes
    Ashwin
    Morkel
    Starc
    Shah
    Anderson
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    (Original post by Mackay)
    Interesting Saturday debate on Sky Sports. Warne, Atherton and co picking their world Test 12. The only condition was that the team must be capable of winning in all conditions.

    They opted for:

    Cook
    Warner
    Root
    Kohli
    Smith
    ABDV (wk)
    Stokes
    Ashwin
    Morkel
    Starc
    Shah
    Anderson
    Not so sure about stokes tbh, I'd play someone like Angelo Matthews instead
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    (Original post by tazza ma razza)
    Not so sure about stokes tbh, I'd play someone like Angelo Matthews instead
    Can't believe Williamson was omitted personally...
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    A good team.I watched the whole episode,I think they should have taken Williamson and made him a caption.Probably for Smith.Also I would have like Cook and Rahane opening or Warner and Rahane.
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    No finer place in England to watch cricket than Edgbaston imho. The crowd are so passionate, and fervent. The atmosphere they create - especially in the Hollies Stand - is just second to none, and Root's right, they can be a 12th man at times for England. Remember that England have never lost a Test there since 2001 - and it seems unlikely they'll lose this one.

    Pakistan are unlikely to win, but a loss is more unlikely than a draw you'd say at this stage. I actually thought England left some runs out there during the evening session. Bairstow and Moeen seemed content to pick up singles and hit the four when they saw it, but if they'd chased the game, they'd have racked up 30/40 more and maybe led to an early declaration.

    I think Cook's captaincy is overtly conservative at times - and tonight was one of them. He could have told Jonny and Moeen to chase the runs, given the fact they have five wickets in hand, but the call didn't come and I'd be very surprised if Cook declared overnight. It seems likely he'll have an hour/90 mins batting in the morning before putting Pakistan in, and maybe that won't be enough time. The pitch at Edgbaston notoriously deteriorates, and the ball usually keeps low on day five. You don't know how it will fair tonight under the roller, but England could find it tough to pick up ten wickets tomorrow. Pakistan's batting order is brittle, obviously, but all it takes is one partnership and England will become frustrated.

    Pakistan's bowlers looked dead on their feet at the end of the day - most notably Yasir. He has bowled long spells throughout this Test, allowing Misbah to rotate his quicks at the other end, but he has also picked up just four wickets since Lord's at almost 500 runs. Those figures are appalling, there's no denying that.

    The partnership between Bairstow/Moeen was the highlight after England were guilty of throwing away a couple of wickets. Bairstow becomes the highest scoring English wicket taker in a calendar year with his knock of 80+. Cook chased a wide one and was duly punished, while Hales was stuck in between two minds and ended up out by pushing. Root, too, seemed to have issued with his back and he's got out to that shot before. I don't necessarily think it's shot selection which is the issue for him, but more likely, execution.

    The real problem for England is Vince. Scores of 30/40 aren't going to win you Test matches, and he needs to realise that. Somebody needs to tell to score - and quickly - because otherwise, his style and appeasing nature on the eye counts for absolutely zero. He put together his longest England innings today - but, again, found himself out to a cheap shot. So, what do the selectors do? By sticking with him, with Bayliss' policy of "giving players one too many innings, rather than one too few", they are denying themselves the chance of discovering other talent from the county circuit. Likewise, it's worth remembering Vince's average over his first six Tests - 23.44 - is more than 10 lower than Kevin Pietersen in his final six - 33.83. With an extensive tour of the subcontinent later this year, surely it's time to ditch Vince and invest properly in finding a spinner?

    Anyway, this was another fine day of cricket - at my favourite ground in the country. Finely poised this one. If you can get along to Birmingham to catch the final day tomorrow, please do.
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    I think the game is heading to a draw because as noted, Moeen and Bairstow's excellent partnership could have add more attacking impetus had they got the nod from Cook to attack even more aggressively to maybe take them to 320/330 and declare overnight. Cook should do that but he might want to give Bairstow his ton and then declare but if they want to go at Pakistan to win the game, they should go for it first ball tomorrow. Moeen played nicely and controlled - commentary noted he'd said in this Test he was trying to replicate his mindset batting at 3 for Worcestershire by taking his time and it showed. Those two fours off Yasir were sweet shots.

    Pakistan, meanwhile, had a game plan that they adhered to much better than yesterday but failure to adapt and go more attacking once they had a breakthrough or two, failed them. It made it more easier for England to recover and re-group. Sohail Khan looked knackered well before the end of the day's play and the constant no-balls maybe show his lack of preparation for a five-day Test. Amir and Rahat bowled according to plan without beating the edge regularly.

    A draw is what will happen but England know they can apply the pressure early as Hafeez will probably hole out a woeful shot and that will start panic stations in the opposition's batting.
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    The one thing you would say is that - given the choice heading into a final day - you'd always pick having to take 10 wickets rather than having to bat out the entire day.

    Hafeez has struggled, they have a new opener, and a very long tail. The one saving grace for Pakistan is that the pitch doesn't appear to be doing much - a fact which clearly frustrated Misbah towards the end of proceedings today. Pakistan's bowlers were tired, bowling long spells, and the pitch offered them next to nothing. I do feel for the tourists, but they have suffered for only boasting a four-man attack - and against England, a team that bats so deep, that'll never be enough. We saw that today, because Pakistan dismissed Cook/Hales early, but still only got England five wickets down by the close of play at Edgbaston.

    England are going to need as much time as possible tomorrow. They'll need an awful lot of time - and I'm worried they won't have enough. I expect Cook to bat for one or two hours at worst, and declare overnight at best. The new ball will be key, and if England can claim some wickets, they'll put Pakistan under pressure.

    I'm backing a draw - but, with England's extra bowler, you'd be foolish to write off the hosts completely.
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    Time and time again, Hafeez's inclusion in this team infuriates me. Hardly bats and can't bowl and drops catches too. We're virtually 0-1 at the beginning of the innings. What do the selectors see in him that everyone else can't?!

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    An England win- I would never have expected that if you had suggested in on Friday evening.
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    Up there with New Zealand at Lord's or Pakistan in Abu Dhabi in terms of turning around a match in the 2nd innings.

    Still feel a little bit for Pakistan though. I guess it was a typical Pakistan collapse, but it's credit to the work Misbah has done that no one really saw it coming. And shout out to Sami Aslam, feel especially gutted for him, he'll know that he was playing well enough to play a test-saving innings.Ran well until he didn't and left well until he didn't.

    (Original post by Aky786UK)
    Hafeez will probably hole out a woeful shot
    :lol:
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    What a complete bowling performance from England today - and that's exactly the word for it: complete.

    The wickets were shared equally among the five main bowlers, but the most pleasing aspect of that for me was Finn finally getting rewards. He bowled an eye-watering 414 deliveries in this series before claiming a wicket, but he deserved it for running in hard and trying his best. Usually, you'd say that pace bowlers are better when allowing their bodies to move naturally, and not over-think things. Finn has tried this approach, but it appears laboured. He always appears to be wrestling with himself - wrestling with his reputation, wrestling with his place in the squad - but he can sleep easy tonight knowing he contributed to a big, big victory.

    This entire series has just been delightful. I want Pakistan to tour England all the time. It's a far cry from the mundanity and pedestrian nature of the SL series, but you have to say that a paucity is developing between the hosts and the tourists. It's clear who the better side are, and they head to the Oval 2-1 in front after an Edgbaston classic.

    Cook's captaincy throughout was excellent, taking the advice of his bowlers and allowing his pacemen to have their say as they attempted to whittle down SL. I felt Cook threw in the towel this morning a little late, in truth, but it was really enjoyable seeing Moeen chase Yasir and hit those back-to-back sixes. He struck 18 off one over, to take him within the sight of Bairstow, before the wicket-keeper fell. I was disappointed to see Moeen walk off with just 82, because he deserved a century at Edgbaston - and how the crowd would have loved that, with him being a Brummie boy.

    The 50-run last-wicket stand between Sohail Khan and Rahat Ali frustrated England for a while, but they were awesome post-lunch and completely dominated the Pakistani batting order. England completely swamped them. It was like the cricket version of gegenpressing at times. Anderson utilised the swing exceptionally, Woakes bagged a wicket during his first over to cement his reputation as one of the most exciting aspects of this current England set-up, and even Moeen applied pressure at the other end and allowed Cook to rotate the seamers.

    Cook's captaincy was further strengthened by his canny knack of moving fielders to positions where, minutes later, they'd claim catches. This England side looked really competent today, and were excellent in the last 7 or so sessions of the Test. It was just a terrific, complete performance - especially in the field. Granted, the batting performance fell short of what we've come to expect from the hosts - especially on the first day - but that could largely be down to Misbah winning the toss.

    I think it's fair to say the best team won. Pakistan just don't bat deep enough to trouble England. Hafeez has played some lousy shots, Shafiq hasn't come to the party, and Younis has struggled. Their tail is poor and short, too, and with a four man attack like theirs you just can't hope to trouble a side as strong as England - especially on home conditions, and especially at Edgbaston, where they haven't lost since 2001.

    England won with a lot to spare - a whopping 141 runs - despite the pitch being benign. It's the biggest win for England after facing a deficit of over 100 runs in a Test.
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    New Zealand's 582-4 dec followed by Zimbabwe's 55-0.. Spare a thought for bowlers, that pitch must be an absolute road.

    Williamson also joined an elite list of 12 that have scored a test century against all 9 test nations.
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    You imagine England will pick an unchanged XI - because it's very rare they feel comfortable to only go with three seamers, and even if they did, it'd be incredible harsh to omit one of them (most likely Finn) after such a complete team bowling performance at Edgbaston in the second Test - but one thing worth remembering is that The Oval is always a turner, and if they wanted to hand Rashid some red-ball minutes before the subcontinent tours this winter, it'd be an ideal time to do so.
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    Also, the best Williamson century I've ever seen was definitely that 102 not out against SA in Wellington back in 2012.
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    Excellent performance by England yesterday - it was a long shot to bat out the day but I felt Pakistan could go into defensive mode and see it out had they not lost those flurry of wickets before tea. Then it was well and truly over. They fell to good deliveries tbf but you still expect more resistance than they offered. Moeen, post-lunch bowled nicely and deserved the vital breakthrough of the Azhar-Sami partnership and the latter, again, showed great signs for the future. If they can just get another opener for the useless Hafeez (suggestions maybe Azhar opens with Sami possibly) as without his bowling, he has shown his inadequacy in these conditions with the bat and in the slips.

    They probably will bring in Wahab and/or Imran Khan for the next Test I think. Sohail's first innings was a cameo show as physically he's not conditioned for Test cricket. Wouldn't mind seeing Imran play but think Wahab's experience will get him the nod and his batting can be OK.

    But had it been a four-day Test it wouldn't have made it there so five-days are definitely worth persisting with and as noted above, it's good to have a competitive, close series between the two sides. If only Pakistan had been a tad more aggressive, they could have nicked this Test with their lead of 100 runs but Azhar, for all his excellent work in composing his 139, gave away major momentum with that cheap last ball dismissal on day two.
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    Bayliss has said he is "very" tempted by the idea of playing Adil Rashid as part of a two-man spin attack at The Oval. Sensible, but we'll wait and see if it happens. I can't see the selectors being as enamoured with the idea of altering a winning formula as Bayliss is. But it makes sense, given the subcontinent tours coming up.

    England play seven Tests in the subcontinent before Christmas– two in Bangladesh, subject to security clearance, and five in India, and you imagine they'll definitely deploy two spinners for those matches.
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    Seems like every other pitch is theoretically a raging turner than necessitates playing 2 spinners.

    We'll carry on like we usually do. Our strength is our seam bowling and that's how we'll beat teams. Can remember one series in my lifetime which we've won because of spin, and our spinners now aren't close to the calibre of Swann and Panesar. Rashid will come in for Vince for the tests in Asia.
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    (Original post by Louis.)
    Seems like every other pitch is theoretically a raging turner than necessitates playing 2 spinners.

    We'll carry on like we usually do. Our strength is our seam bowling and that's how we'll beat teams. Can remember one series in my lifetime which we've won because of spin, and our spinners now aren't close to the calibre of Swann and Panesar. Rashid will come in for Vince for the tests in Asia.
    I think you're right - especially with the number one Test team up for grabs now. You can't upset a winning formula, though I'd like Rashid to get some red-ball overs for England before the winter. That said, you could argue the Bangladesh tour (if it goes ahead) won't be the most testing, so that serves as a warm-up for India, who will be much trickier to navigate.

    Australia, England, India and Pakistan... any of those four could be the number one ranked Test side in the world by the end of next week.
 
 
 
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