ENGLAND'S series against Pakistan continues on Thursday in Dubai. Josh Healey (@joshealey04) gives us his best bets.
Pakistan v England | Thursday – Monday
Viewers certainly won’t be rushing to switch on the cricket after one of the worst Test matches in recent history unfolded before us last week. Nevertheless, we move on to Dubai and reports suggest this pitch will offer more pace and spin, so we could be in for a more competitive encounter.
Pakistan have a solid record in Dubai – W4-D2-L2 – but are by no means unbeatable here. The average first innings score is just 253.88 (90.1 overs). This is largely due to the fact the hosts have twice been skittled for 99 when batting first, once by England in 2012, funnily enough. 4/6 wins have come from the side batting second, perhaps indicating the wicket tends to offer something first up before flattening out.
After missing out due to a back spasm in the first Test, new-found talisman Yasir Shah returns for the hosts. The leg-spinner has made a blistering start to his Test career, notching 61 wickets in his first 10 games.
No doubt he will be relishing the opportunity to bowl at an England line-up that is vulnerable to spin, and leg-spin in particular. It is not something the tourists are accustomed to facing, and the speed at which Shah bowls accompanied with the sharp turn he generates is going to cause serious problems. I have to get on side with him here.
I’m backing Yasir Shah to score over 118.5 performance points at 5/6 with PaddyPower. He has surpassed this line in 8/10 Tests to date, including both times he’s played on this ground. Shah averages 3.21 wickets per innings and 10.90 with the bat; promising stats given the line that has been set.
With more turn expected, Shah will be the spearhead of the attack with the pacers and Zulfiqar Babar providing able support. If this man picks up from where he left off this summer, where he claimed 24 wickets in three games against Sri Lanka, we are onto a winner.
Switching the focus to England and it was Alastair Cook who stole the show last time out. A herculean effort from the captain in which he scored 263 runs spanning across 836 minutes, the third longest Test innings of all time and the longest ever by an Englishman, ultimately saved his side from defeat.
But despite Cook’s heroics, I still find myself drawn towards England’s prodigy – Joe Root. Taking a post-Ashes break appears to have worked as he notched 85 in the first innings and an unbeaten 33 in the second. That was a comfortable warm up for the number four and he will surely be feeling fresher than his captain going into this encounter.
Bet365’s 11/4 quote on Root to claim top batsman suggests a 26.67% chance of winning, but he has top scored in the first innings in 12/33 Tests (36.36%). Splitting his career in half shows this bet would’ve landed in just 3/15 (20%) from 2012-13, but in 9/18 (50%) from 2014 onwards. This indicates how the 24-year-old has blossomed in the last two years, emerging as England’s brightest talent.
If the bookies keep offering us such value about Root top scoring, who are we to turn it down? It’s worth taking a chance on him delivering the goods once again, especially considering this pitch could be a little trickier to navigate than the Abu Dhabi road.
Pakistan v England Second Test – Yasir Shah Over 118.5 performance points (5/6 Paddy Power)
Pakistan v England Second Test – Joe Root top England batsman (11/4 Bet365)
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