Ed Hawkins previews the final Test at Headingley from Friday and says the odds are bad on England squaring things up...
"England are [1.67], Pakistan [4.5] and the draw is [5.4]. You would need your head read to consider England value at those odds"
England v Pakistan
Friday 1 June 11.00
TV: live on Sky Sports
England's worst week
It has not been a great week for England. Outplayed by Pakistan with the toss bias in their favour, their batting horribly exposed, match-fixing allegations and, on the eve of a must-win second Test, an injury to their all-rounder, Ben Stokes.
Stokes has a hamstring injury. If he plays it may be as a batsman only. This will disrupt balance. Alternatively they could plays Chris Woakes or Tum Curran as bowling all-rounders.
One confirmed switch is Keaton Jennings replacing Mark Stoneman. Jennings has a second grab at the poisoned chalice which is Alastair Cook's opening partner.
Jennings made his Test debut in India in December 2016, scoring a century. But in 11 subsequent innings he passed fifty once and he was dropped by the end of the following summer after concerns about his technique. His recall is an example of how bare the cupboard is in terms of batting talent.
England have other holes. Dom Bess, despite a pugnacious half-century in the second dig at HQ, looks a long way off an international-class bowler. But England must persevere. It might not be a bad idea if Cook and Joe Root started batting like senior players, though.
Pakistan on fire
There was something joyous about the way Pakistan ripped through England. Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Abbas and Hasan Ali ran in with purpose and mastery to set up the nine-wicket win.
It was testament to the hard work Pakistan had put in during the warm-up matches and the one-off Test in Ireland. Despite limited experience in 'English' conditions they looked as though they'd been doing it for years.
Perhaps that is what was hardest to take for England. It was James Anderson and Stuart Broad who looked like the novices.
Pakistan's batsmen also had the edge. Asad Shafiq, as expected, was robust while Babar Azam, Shadab Khan and Haris Sohail also showed great aptitude. One disappointment is that Babar will not play here because of a wrist injury.
Headingley hell for hosts
If you believe that England will be happy playing at Headingley, where seaming and swinging conditions are supposed to help them, think again. It is their least successful home ground. Last year they suffered a shock defeat by West Indies. It was their fifth defeat there in the last eight.
The first-innings average is 338 in the last 16 Tests. The weather is important. If the sun is out, batting is pretty easy. If it's cloudy then the pace bowlers are in the game. At the moment the forecasters are expecting little sun.
England are [1.67], Pakistan [4.5] and the draw is [5.4]. You would need your head read to consider England value at those odds.
Sure, it is possible that Anderson and Broad could find their range and Pakistan's batting, understandably, could really struggle. But that's not a [1.67] shot.
So we have little other option to side with Pakistan. And we're happy too. If they produce the same verve and guts as at HQ, they will give us a good run. Consistency has always been their problem, though.
Bairstow could go well
As much as England will be peeved by the returns of Messrs Cook and Root, there is concern that Dawid Malan is on the slide, too. The trend of the last few years has been for new batsmen to come in, look the part and then collapse. Root, Cook and Malan are the front three in the betting at 5/2, 3/1 and 7/2 respectively with Betfair Sportsbook. Jonny Bairstow, on his home ground, will be well supported then given a strong record there at 5/1. Jennings is 9/2 and Stokes catches the eye at 8/1.
Azhar Ali put a difficult tour behind him with a first-innings half-century at Lord's so it's not wholly surprising to see him at 11/4 favourite for top Pakistan runscorer with Betfair Sportsbook. But Asad Shafiq has been underrated again at 5/1. He looked in good touch. A word, too for Sarfaraz Ahmed at 14/1. We reckon he has good stickability and if Pakistan do suffer against the new ball, he could be required to hang around.
Ed Hawkins P-L
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. New points system (0.5pt-5) introduced for 2017. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l