England came into this 3rd test at Edgbaston full of confidence after their dominant display against Pakistan at Old Trafford winning by 330 runs. The only negative of the game for England being the injury to all-rounder Ben Stokes, meaning the fast bowler and wicket-taking option Steven Finn was bought in to replace the Durham player. Alastair Cook and the selectors were going for the more experienced and established international bowler over the less experienced and new on the international stage, Jake Ball.
The test match started as a mirror opposite to the previous test. The 2nd test saw England get an unassailable lead, setting Pakistan a target of 565, with Cook and Root getting the bulk of the runs in both innings, and then managed to bowl Pakistan out cheaply and easily throughout the game, 198 1st innings and 234 2nd innings. Compare that to the start of this test at Edgbaston, England were all out for 297 with England’s key batsman Alastair Cook and Joe root falling cheaply before it was Pakistan’s turn to attain a very healthy lead of just over 100.
Cook scored 45 before being bowled lbw by Rahat, and the normally dependable Root being dismissed managing a mere total of three runs being caught at slip off the bowling of the brilliant Sohail Khan by Hafeez. The decision to bring in bowler Sohail Khan was a master class by Pakistan with him continuing to cause England trouble. He dismantled England’s top order taking the wickets of Alex Hales, Joe Root, James Vince and Jonny Bairstow, all being caught behind, in an outstanding spell of bowling where he took four wickets in 15 overs.
The England batsman at the top of the order owed a lot of thanks and gratitude to the 66 run partnership between Gary Balance and Moeen Ali that managed to steady the ship and somewhat bail out the terrible start England made as it enabled them to almost reach 300 after being in a precarious position of 158-5. The failure of England’s top order being one of the main reasons for such a low 1st innings score, especially when you look at the previous test match with the 105 runs scored by captain Cook and the hugely impressive innings of 254 runs by Joe Root being the starting point to a dominant display.
England knew coming out to bowl that they would have to take early wickets to restrict Pakistan to the same score or would face chasing the game. This is exactly what happened with James Anderson taking the wicket of Hafeez early on in the innings. The excitement and good mood soon evaporated with Sami and Azhar Ali putting on a 180 run partnership to put Pakistan in a commanding position, Sami scoring 82 and Ali scoring 139, which was then backed up expertly by another captain’s innings by Misbah of 56.
The flat pitch that was giving nothing to help the bowlers in any way and the tiring bowlers who had been in the field for more than a day enabled a quick fire and strong 46 by batsman-wicketkeeper Sarfraz allowing Pakistan to score 400 before being all out. The England bowlers rolled through the long tail of Pakistan, giving little resistance but the damage had already been done with Pakistan in a strong position with a lead of 100. England’s 2nd innings started a lot better than the 1st with Alastair Cook and Alex Hales putting on the opening partnership of 126 to combat the lead that had been built up without the lost of a wicket. Cook scoring 66 before he uncharacteristically drove loosely at a Sohail Khan delivery to Yasir at point and Hales got 54 runs, dismissed eventually when he edged an Amir ball to Younus Khan in the slips.
This was a sign of things to come with the top order making right their shortcomings of the previous innings with Root and Vince backing up the openers well with scores of 62 and 42 runs respectively. This shifted the game in England’s favour with Misbahs safe and conservative approach being the wrong move and being pivotal in allowing England to gain an assertive position that meant they couldn’t lose. This ultimately contributed to the end result of England winning the test match and taking a 2-1 lead in the series. With Bairstow and Moeen Ali being put under no pressure they freely scored with their 150 partnership coming early in day 5 off just 170 balls after they decided to try and score as many runs as possible to assert their position. The three overs in the morning session demonstrate this remarkable attacking attitude with 31 runs in just four overs helping to put a Pakistan win out of the question. Alastair Cook finally declared with England on 445-6, Moeen Ali finishing the innings on 86 not out setting Pakistan a target of 343 to win.
This huge lead proved too much for the Pakistan batsman with James Anderson, Stuart Broad, Chris Woakes, Steven Finn and Moeen Ali all taking 2 wickets each. Stuart Broad started the wickets tumbling when he and England were gifted a wicket when Hafeez pulled a delivery off his hip straight to Chris Woakes at long leg making the score 6-1. Shami and Azhar ali managed to steady the ship and ease the pressure on Pakistan but they struggled to score runs to make them feel better, scoring just 10 runs in six over after lunch. Once Aslam Shami and Azhar Ali fell after a promising partnership the game was all but over with the rest of the batsman falling cheaply with Pakistan being bowled out for 201 in 70.5 overs.
A game that swung back and forth in an enthralling and dramatic test match, with Pakistan being on top at the end of the 1st innings of both sides by bowling out England cheaply for 297 before scoring 400 giving them a lead of just over 100. Then the game swung in England’s favour and stayed that way until the end by England getting an unassailable lead setting Pakistan a target of 343. The top order writing the wrongs of the 1st innings and then the bowlers were able to bowl Pakistan out for 201, with Sohail Khan being the last out after being dismissed caught and bowled off Moeen Ali, topping off his performance with the bat with a great display with the ball. Another Pakistan batting collapse that has been a on going feature of this England tour so far, with a rare great batting innings by Pakistan in between the collapses, meant England were able to come from behind and win the third test against Pakistan by 141 runs in a game where they were well against it and take a 2-1 lead in the test series.