The draw certainly now looks out of the question in the second Test between England and Pakistan, but punters should think carefully before following Geoff Boycott’s optimism that England are nailed on for victory.
England certainly had the better of the third day’s play, restricting Pakistan to 125-4 in their second innings, a lead of just 55 runs with their top batsmen already back in the hut.
This led Boycott to say on the BBC: “England will come back refreshed in the morning and there is no doubt in my mind that England will win. I’ll put my house on it, all three of them if you want.”
However, the onus will be on England to breach the current 71-run partnership between Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq quickly, as if they can settle again at the crease, Andrew Strauss’ team will be left a tricky run chase to complete.
But an early breakthrough will get England’s tails up and Pakistan’s final four batsmen failed to contribute a single run between them in the first innings.
England are now 4/9 in the cricket odds to level the series and if they can restrict Pakistan to no more than 100 runs on the fourth day, then they must be fancied to chase down their winning target.
Furthermore, Pakistan have only previously ever beaten England once when surrendering a first innings deficit, which was back in 2005.
Although, having to score more than 150 to keep the series alive is not guaranteed to be a simple run chase, especially with talented spin trio Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Hafeez and Abdur Rehman bowling on a pitch that is four days old.
Pakistan will not feel they are without a chance of wrapping up the series with a Test to spare and can be backed at a tempting 9/4 to steal victory.