Pakistan, who drew 1-1 with Australia earlier in the season, can level the four-match series 2-2 if they win at Lord’s after twice exposing the England batting in their third-test victory at the Oval last week.
England captain Andrew Strauss accepted on Wednesday his side was guilty of mistakes in the third test, and said he and his team mates “want to put those right this week.”
“I think there is a really nice determined atmosphere about the group because we feel we may have a point to prove again, and that’s a good state of mind to be in,” Strauss told Sky television.
Inevitably, the series is being viewed in the context of England’s Ashes defence starting in Brisbane on November 25, although conditions in Australia will bear no resemblance to the autumnal weather predicted for Lord’s in the last test of the summer.
England’s priority will be to win at a venue where they have won or drawn nine consecutive tests since losing to Australia in 2005.
The weather throughout the current series has favoured the bowlers, and Pakistan’s attack looks at the moment to be the best balanced in world cricket.
Captain Salman Butt said they named an unchanged team for the match as fast bowler Umar Gul, who took five wickets in the first test against Australia at Lord’s, failed to regain his fitness following a hamstring injury.
“We don’t want to change a winning combination. We are looking forward to further improving our performance in the fourth test,” Butt told Pakistan’s Geo Super channel.
“It is a good chance to put England under pressure from the start.”
Mohammad Asif’s late movement from a probing length has delighted the connoisseurs of swing and seam and evoked comparisons with Australian Terry Aldermann and New Zealand’s Richard Hadlee, who both proved deadly in English conditions.
His new-ball partner, Mohammad Amir, still only 18, combines high pace with reverse swing, while a second left-armer, Wahab Riaz, displayed speed and disconcerting bounce in his debut at the Oval.
Off-spinner Saeed Ajmal completes the attack with a doosra that none of the English top order has consistently picked.
Strauss said England had made a concerted effort to address their batting problems.
“It was disappointing the way we played at the Oval, there were mistakes we made as a batting unit,” he said.
“You do have to put it into context and the context has been that some of the wickets have been hard to bat on, the Oval probably less so.
“We sat down and chatted about it and I think it’s a case of bringing the game back to its simplest form, and that is backing your game plan, reacting well to the conditions and what the bowlers are doing, and earning the right to get on top of the opposition bowling.” – Reuters