After the remarkable performance that was symbolised by 11 men working as one very proficient Team in the 2nd Test there is likely to be no changes. There has been talk about the position of Junaid Khan in the Team with his place being challenged by fellow lefty Wahab Riaz and the big hearted Aizaz Cheema. Both worthy of recall, but you can see the Team remaining unchanged. Leaving it as follows.
Hafees, Taufeeq, Azhar Ali, Younis, Misbah, Asad Shafique, Adnan, Rehman, Gul, Ajmal, Juniad.
The Keys to Winning the Test
The previous two Tests have underlined the hold the trio of excellent Pakistani spinners have had over the English batsmen with them taking 34 of the 40 wickets at a collective average of 14.17. In a word the spinners have posed many questions that the English have had few answers too.
Logically the key to the Teams success will again be with how well they can support the spin department to have everything in their favour when they bowl.
This is a three part equation centring around the tactics employed in support of them which have been exemplary from Misbah ul Haq as well as the role the pace bowlers and the Teams batting play in support. The latter two will be key in this match played on a new laid pitch that prompted this response from the Pakistani leader
"It looks an even better wicket than the first Test, especially for batting."
It is crucial that the batting that has been adequate in the series or in fact made to be made to look so by the failings of the English batting lifts. In the knowledge that with the touted batting friendly nature of the pitch the spinners might find things somewhat more difficult against an English batting line up that will be determined to save face. So giving them a fillip would be if they have the benefit of their batting line up showing dominance to keep the pressure on the English with scoreboard pressure.
You have faith in this happening with how much respect you gained for the youngsters in Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq with how they batted in the 2nd Test that showed the have a real future in the Test arena. As well as showing that with further maturity they will form an excellent batting line up with the support of the incumbents in the Team.
Away from the batting the pace men have a crucial role to play as well in getting early break throughs. Especially with the signs of Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott showing signs of life. If they can get through these two with the new ball it will pave the way for the spinners continued dominance against the misfiring English middle order.
If the batting and pace men improve then you can see the spinners giving all sorts of heart palpitations to the under fire English batsmen again.
In the wake of the failings of the last two Tests highlighted by a real fragility being exposed against spin there have been calls for changes with most focussing on Kevin Pietersen and Eoin Morgan. You can see the English powers that be merely eye balling KP and telling him to pull his finger out, but Morgan might feel the axe with Ravi Bopara replacing him. Leaving the Team as follows:
Strauss, Cook, Trott, Pietersen. Bell, Bopara, Prior, Broad, Swann, Anderson, Panesar.
The Keys For England to Win
I must say I have been startled by England's failures on this Tour especially in regards to their battings struggles against the spin. On the evidence seen it would be understandable to state that they have a fundamental flaw against it, but I am more of the belief that with familiarity the batting will come around to being fine against it.
You saw this with the signs shown by Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott in the previous Test where they indeed reverted the pressure back onto the spinners. It is likely that these two will again rise to the challenge and even coming to the fore in terms of striking back harder at the Pakistani's
The success of the Team will depend on the rest of the batting supporting them.
Comprising of Andrew Strauss, who has averaged 29.74 in his last 35 innings with just 1 century., Kevin Pietersen who just rankles with how flippant he is in moments when the Team so needs him. Especially when most good judges view him as the most talented player in the Team. Then Ian Bell and Eoin Morgan who have both looked out of their depth in regards to Bell against Ajmal's 'Doosra' and Morgan just with the standard of Test Cricket.
If Morgan is replaced with Ravi Bopara it is pretty much a like for like swap with him being devoid of Test class as well.
Aiding in their potential rise will be the performance of the top 3 of Strauss, Cook and Trott to get the Team a good start allowing the pressure to be alleviated off the middle order.
Also with how they control the attitude in the batting which has been for the most undermined by its supreme negativity. Which has played into the spinners hands in heaping pressure to pressure and ultimate demise.
Going against the grain of what we have associated with English batting during their rise in the game which has been proactive and very positive batting. It will be key to turning around their fortunes in this match and indeed going forward with an eye on the spinning decks in Sri Lanka and India.
You can see positivety being the reality in this match with the combination of some ear bashing from Mssrs Flower&Gooch coupled with their minds being freed by the match being a 'dead rubber'
If they can rise to the exceptional standard they have set in the past you can see the prospect of a face saving victory with the bowling that has been excellent throughout likely to maintain that standard.
Call me crazy, but I just think the English will hit back hard in this Test and win with their batting rediscovering their revered vigour.