Pakistan have the edge but should be very wary of gritty England and their new ball
The pendulum is swinging Pakistan’s way. The tourists have the edge after day one of the third Investec Test at Edgbaston but the clash is well set. If England bowl well with the new ball tomorrow morning it will be very hard work for the tourists.
There is no doubt, however, that Pakistan will be the happier of the two sides having bowled out England for under 300 after winning the toss and opting to field.
The pitch isn’t a green seamer or a minefield so there aren’t too many demons there. It looked an even-paced deck, although the conditions offered some assistance to the bowlers and Pakistan made the most of those.
Misbah-ul-Haq’s Pakistan will not overly concern themselves with run-rate tomorrow morning. It will simply be a case of trying to see off that new ball before attempting to make hay when the ball gets a bit older, which in turn makes it harder work for the bowler.
England will not be too downbeat. Getting to around the 300 mark after being 158-5 is always a decent turnaround. England’s depth in batting, with Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes at No7 and No8 respectively, is a real strength of the side.
Moeen’s knock of 63 is a case in point and one of the major reasons why England pick the Worcestershire all-rounder.
The likes of Yorkshire’s Gary Ballance and Hampshire captain James Vince had to fight yesterday. It was a real pressure situation for them both as their places in team are under threat.
Vince had only scored 130 runs in seven Test innings prior to today, and while he got a start with 39 he didn’t go on and chalk up a big score, so speculation about his long-term international future will continue.
Ballance, meanwhile, hadn’t yet passed 50 since returning to the side at the start of the Pakistan series, having been dropped during last summer’s Ashes series, although yesterday was only his fourth innings.
He showed some grit and took a step towards cementing his place in the team for a bit longer. It was good to see a grafting knock from him. Sometimes a team needs ugly runs and somebody has to stand up and take the responsibility to score them.
It should be good viewing tomorrow. Pakistan struggled against the new ball during their 330-run thrashing at Old Trafford last month so it will prove an intriguing tussle when England open up with James Anderson.
Pakistan will look to skipper Misbah and Younis Khan, their senior players, for a steadying influence, while opener Mohammad Hafeez, who is one of their best players, needs to show his quality.