England vs Pakistan 2016: The English smell revenge as Pakistan look to save the day
It was the second highest lead that a team had before not enforcing a follow-on in the history of the game of Cricket, the highest being from the time when there were timeless-tests. Lots of oohs and aahs were audible when the English captain Alastair Cook decided to bat for the second time despite having a lead of 391 runs.
Nothing else, but a group of tired bowlers can be the case that Cook might put forth, if at all this decision backfires for England. For Pakistan, this has to be the last string they can latch on to. Like a person on a death row looks for a Presidential pardon, Pakistan must look heavenwards.
Yes, there is heavy rain forecast for the next couple of days in Manchester. But, is the cause all lost for Pakistan, for the hopeful: no, but for the pragmatic: yes. With England ahead by 489 runs, a declaration seems as palpable as a dip in value for the Sterling Pound post the Brexit, both of them are bound to happen, and as they say, it is only a matter of time.
So, what ahead for Pakistan?
A possible attempt to bat out the next two days and save the game, but it is easier said than done. The Pakistani batting has been as lackadaisical as it seemed sound at Lord’s. They’ve struggled against the swing and pace at Manchester which was missing at Lord’s. And that is why, it seems unreasonable to even fathom even for the most faithful of Cricket romantics that Pakistan will indeed bat the two days out and conquer the conditions at Manchester.
One man who can do that though for Pakistan, is their captain, Misbah-ul-Haq. At more moments than one throughout his career, Misbah has seemed to be absolutely aplomb when the world around him falls, and the latest evidence of that is the innings he played on Day 3.
When everyone around him struggled to get behind the ball and keep up with the swing and shape that the English bowlers were getting, Misbah seemed to be batting on a different track against a different opposition, entirely. So, if Pakistan are to even have a chance at batting the two days out at Old Trafford, they need to, as a batting line-up look up to their captain.
Misbah has the technique, the temperament and the resolve to get his team through. But, is he the impregnable sage? Or is he the sage who has a trigger switch which suddenly makes him look ordinary?
If you’ve followed Pakistan Cricket in the last decade, you’d say he is the latter. Be it his innings against India at the WT20 final and that (in retrospect) needless scoop, or an absolutely infuriating slog that he played off Moeen Ali at Lord’s in the 2nd innings or for that matter the shot he played to get out on Day 3. All of them show that something occasionally happens to Misbah and he turns from an aplomb learned sage to one who has forgotten the elementary verses of his text.
England’s Test to lose
England seem to sit pretty at the moment, and if they bat and then bowl the way they have hitherto in this test match, this will again be a 4-day test match. Whereas, when Pakistan take the field on Day 4, trailing by 489 runs, they must remember the backdrop they started this test series at Lord’s.
They started it with all odds against them and must remember, this time around too, the better side of the table is with England. But quite frankly, how often have we seen a Pakistani team come out swinging when their backs were against the wall. Day 4 promises some exciting Cricket for all of us.