Cricket

England bat against Pakistan in 4th Test

2016-08-11 11:53
Alastair Cook (Getty Images)

London - England captain Alastair Cook won the toss and elected to bat in the fourth and final Test against Pakistan at The Oval on Thursday.

The opener made his decision despite cloudy overhead conditions and a green-tinged pitch both offering the promise to assist pace bowlers.

England were unchanged from the side that won the third Test by 141 runs at Edgbaston last week, after deciding against giving a home debut to leg-spinner Adil Rashid.

James Vince was passed fit to play despite a finger injury he suffered at Edgbaston which prevented the Hampshire batsman from continuing to field in the slips.

"We'll have a bat first," said Cook at the toss. "We had a long hard thought about it. The wickets here are good wickets.

"You're always tempted with green grass to bowl first, and the first hour will be hard work. But it will turn on days four and five, especially with the sun coming out.

"It might reverse (swing) in days four or five. We've got to focus on today and getting through the first hour and session."

Turning to Rashid's omission, Cook added: "We wanted to keep the team's balance.

"It's tough for Adil Rashid. But if he gets a go he's got to make the most of it."

Pakistan made two changes, with top-order batsman and occasional off-spinner Iftikhar Ahmed given a Test debut in place of struggling opener Mohammad Hafeez.

Meanwhile left-arm quick Wahab Riaz was recalled in place of fellow paceman Rahat Ali for his third match of the series after missing out at Edgbaston.

Pakistan, whose four-man attack has been struggling for fitness late in recent Tests, now had an extra bowling option in Iftikhar.

"We were also planning to bat first, as spinners come into play later on at The Oval," Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq told BBC Radio's Test Match Special.

"You never know in cricket, the first two hours are always important if you can get something out of the pitch.

"We make two changes -- Mohammad Hafeez and Rahat Ali are not playing, Iftikhar Ahmed and Wahab Riaz are in."

Victory for England in in south London allied to India failing to win the final two matches of their series in the West Indies would see Cook's men climb to the top of the world Test rankings.

If England avoid defeat at The Oval, they will hold series titles against all the other nine Test-playing nations.

Before play began players, officials and spectators observed a minute's silence in memory of the 72 people killed during an explosion at a hospital in Quetta, south-west Pakistan, on Monday.

Both teams also wore black armbands as a mark of respect.

Teams:

England: Alastair Cook (captain), Alex Hales, Joe Root, James Vince, Gary Ballance, Jonny Bairstow (wkt), Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad, Steven Finn, James Anderson

Pakistan: Sami Aslam, Azhar Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq (captain), Asad Shafiq, Sarfraz Ahmed (wkt), Wahab Riaz, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Amir, Sohail Khan

Umpires: Bruce Oxenford (AUS), Marais Erasmus (RSA)

TV umpire: Joel Wilson (WIS)

Match referee: Richie Richardson (WIS)

Read more on:    england  |  alastair cook  |  cricket
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