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Simon Hughes: Maturity of younger batsmen has put England victory within reach

02 Nov | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Simon Hughes: Maturity of younger batsmen has put England victory within reach

The Analyst believes tourists will level series if Taylor and Bairstow can show same energy and intelligence throughout third morning

England’s tenacious efforts with both bat and ball have given them a very real chance of winning this third Test match and levelling the series.

A lead of 80 on this painfully slow pitch and outfield is worth 120 on a normal ground, and staying in will get increasingly hard as the match wears on.

If England win the first session of the third day – say by only losing a maximum of two wickets before lunch – they have an 80 per cent chance of winning the match.

If it was the experience and discipline of their two senior bowlers in James Anderson and Stuart Broad that ground Pakistan’s batsmen down on the first day, then it was the agility and busyness of two younger members that gave England a slight advantage on the second.

James Taylor has waited three years for the chance to show what he can do in Test cricket after his first two efforts in 2012, and there was a danger he would perish through over-excitement when he came in to bat in Sharjah.

But after looking a little too eager at the start of the innings he settled down to play an assured knock featuring superb judgement and footwork, a positive intent and brilliant running between the wickets.

Jonny Bairstow also supported him superbly.

A great student of the game, Taylor understood one very important lesson of batting in the sub-continent: do not get too bogged down.

You must always look to score against the spinners.

He did that by not being afraid to work the leg breaks of Yasir Shah into the leg side – where there are less fielders – against the spin with wristy flicks, as well as utilising neat cuts and dabs and the odd full blooded sweep.

He and Bairstow were always looking for singles and sprinted between the wickets, preventing the bowlers from building up pressure. 

What they also did excellently, however, was recognise a dangerous spell, soak it up and see it off.

This came from an unlikely source – the left arm swing of Rahat Ali who was bending the ball both ways.

But they played him carefully – as the Pakistanis did with Anderson.

The difference was that Pakistan caved in to Anderson, who, as mentioned in the preview, could find a four-leaf clover in the desert – such is his precision and skill.

England only lost one wicket – that of Joe Root – to Ali, and none to their chief destroyer in Dubai, Wabah Riaz.

It put more responsibility on the main threat, Yasir Shah, and he consequently looked a little weary by the end of the day.

If Taylor and Bairstow do not get third-morning-itis and succumb early on, then England could push on past 300 – even without Ben Stokes.

Samit Patel is also a fine player of spin with 22 first-class hundreds.

Then the bowlers can prey on Pakistan’s erratic top-order batting, pressurise the engine room of Younus Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq and Asad Shafiq and expose their fragile tail.

If England can leave themselves less than 150 for victory in the fourth innings, they will win. Just.  

Pakistan v England third Test betting

READ: Simon Hughes: Batting first may not be vital to England’s hopes of winning