England vs Pakistan - Third Test Preview: Root and Cook look to continue their excellent form

With a win apiece for both England and Pakistan, the third match of the four game series at Edgbaston poses a crucial one to both sides. A victory for either would ensure they cannot lose the series in the final game at the Oval next week.

Pakistan have "analysed their plans"

The hosts will be looking to build upon an emphatic 330 run win at Old Trafford next week, with Joe Root's excellent form taking him to second in the ICC's Test batsman rankings. The number three batsman scored a remarkable 254 and an unbeaten 71, though Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur claims they have "analysed our plans" for both captain Alistair Cook and Root. Arthur suggested "we see them as fundamental to England's batting. If we get into them with the new ball we've got a real good chance".

Arthur's optimism comes on the back of a struggle with the bat in the opening two games for Alex Hales, James Vince and Gary Ballance. Despite the trio's lack of form they look set to keep their place with Ben Stokes left out of the 13 man squad after picking up a calf injury.

With Adil Rashid likely to be overlooked, the selectors will decide between Jake Ball and Steven Finn to add to the bowling attack. Both were left out for the second Test,  with the former taking one wicket on his debut, whilst the latter was sloppy and wayward in a dry spell with the ball in the first Test. 

Joe Root is in the form of his life (photo : Getty Images )
Joe Root is in the form of his life (photo : Getty Images )

"I always believed I was good enough"

England have looked light in the bowling department and owe much of the credit to Chris Woakes. After a period of time on the periphery of the team, the all-rounder had taken his chance emphatically, picking up 18 wickets in the two matches at an average of just over 12. He also added a half century with the bat at Old Trafford in the second Test.

The 27-year-old is confident he can continue his good form, claiming "I always believed I was good enough. It's just a matter of getting it out of myself and getting a run in the side".

More required from a number of tourists

Pakistan will be hoping their stars can be offered more support from the rest of their team around them. Captain Misbah-ul-Haq and Asad Shafiq are the only players to have reached the half century milestone in any of the four innings', with the former converting to a match-winning 114 in the first Test. No other tourist player has more than an average of 26 from the first two matches. 

The visitors have been slightly more effective with the ball, an attack that was led by spinner Yasir Shah when he picked up ten wickets in the first match. Yet he managed to pick up just one as he failed to get any purchase out of the Old Trafford pitch last time out. Mohammad Amir has shown glimpses of his class on his return to Test cricket, but with the best average of the seamers dwindling around the 40 mark, Pakistan will hope their pace attack can be a lot more effective at Edgbaston.