Pakistan v England Third Test Betting: Cook prays for a kind coin

Yasir could be the difference
Yasir could be the difference

Ed Hawkins previews the final Test - one which the tourists have to win - in Sharjah from Sunday. Can they pull of a surprise?

"If the hosts were to bat first then their price would probably shorten up to below even money"

Recommended Bet
Back side batting first

Pakistan v England
TV: live on Sky Sports
Start time: 06.00, Sunday


Pakistan are sitting pretty with one Test to go and are probably just the toss of a coin away from extending their unbeaten record in series in the UAE.

It is worth noting that at any stage during this Test Pakistan can choose to pull down the shutters and bat, bat and bat some more. They have no reason to give England a sniff and you can guarantee they will not be altruistic in the least for the 'good of the game' or the paying fan.

That much was clear in their attitude to the declaration in game two. They batted on far too long and almost ran out of time against lower-order English resistance.

Setting a side 491 to win in the fourth innings was, frankly, ludicrous. So goodness knows what they might set this time.

They will have to make one change after Imran Khan was ruled out with a hand injury. Rahat Ali, the left-armer, takes his pacer's spot.


England have lost the services of Mark Wood, who bowled with hostility in Dubai. It is not altogether a surprise because his ankle issues meant he was highly unlikely to last the series.

In his place one from Liam Plunkett or Chris Jordan look likely to come in. Samit Patel, the spinner, is another option but considering it is pace which England have got most change from in the contests so far, it would be a surprise if they went with the Nottinghamshire man.

It means England could undergo a revamp. One certain switch is Jos Buttler making way for Jonny Bairstow and James Taylor coming in. There are also doubts about Ian Bell's participation although the England management may consider they need his experience for a must-win game.

First-innings runs

There have been seven Test played at Sharjah and we can be pretty sure we are going to see runs earl on. The scores read: 493-472-59-444-413-428-351.

That is consistent run-making, bar Pakistan's bizarre implosion against Australia in 2002. The average is 380.

Match odds

Pakistan are 2.245/4, England 3.412/5 and the draw is 3.814/5. But surely the most important aspect of this game is the toss. Rare as odds are our king.

There is no toss bias statistically. It's an even split from the seven Tests with one draw. But it would be folly to believe England can win this game without batting first.

They probably know that. Pakistan know that. Bettors know that. And if the hosts were to bat first then their price would probably shorten up to below even money.

Pakistan are rightful favourites. Bar the aberration in the third innings in the first Test they have looked resolute in the cease and have a admirable quality of making use of the conditions to grind down bowlers.

With the ball, Wahab Riaz has been consistently the quickest on show while Yasir Shah has the x-factor. Yasir, who this week trained with Shane Warne, looks certain to be the nemesis for England if they have to chase a target in the fourth innings.

Top Pakistan runscorer

Misbah-ul-Haq notched two half-centuries in Pakistan's last game but one at Sharjah, against Sri Lanka. There were tons for Mohammad Hafeez - a big one of 197 - and Asad Shafiq against New Zealand in November.

Top England runscorer

This is not particularly insightful advice but trying to find a winner other than Alastair Cook or Joe Root is a waste of time. There is no evidence any of the other flash harrys England posess can really knuckle down for the kind of mammoth effort required here. The pair are 3.1511/5 and 3.185/40 respectively.

Recommended Bet

Back side batting first

Ed Hawkins P/L

2015: +£378.80
2014: +315.10
2013: +250.80
To £10 level stakes (unless otherwise stated), based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate.
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