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Rupert Wyman 17th Aug 2010 - 11:11

England look set to wrap up series

England (1/2) are hot favourites once again to continue their winning streak this summer by beating Pakistan at the Oval and taking an unassailable 3-0 lead in the four match series.

On current form, Pakistan's main hope of avoiding an embarrassing 4-0 whitewash (6/5) could lie with the weather with some rain forecast for Friday. Possible bad weather and the promise of a flatter pitch at the Oval could encourage draw backers at a generous 11/4.

The problem for anyone opposing England will be the awful top order batting from Pakistan so far this series, in four innings their main batsman have failed badly with scores of - 47/6, 41/7, 36/6 and 82/5.

You can't win, or even draw, test matches with those starts and unless the Pakistani batsman can find an answer to the swinging ball it's difficult to see anything other than an England win in this one.

Wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haider will miss the remaining Tests against England because of a broken finger. Kamran Akmal who struggled badly in the first test will replace the 24-year-old.

One glimmer of hope for Pakistan supporters should be the return of Mohammed Yousuf to shore up the batting. The experienced batsman averages over 53 in test cricket and has an excellent record in England. If he can find his form he is an excellent bet to top score at 7/2.  Unless he hits a big score though it's unlikely Pakistan will pull off a shock win (6/1).

For England, Jonathon Trott returns to the scene of his greatest moment in test cricket so far, he scored a debut century against Australia here last summer to help guide England to victory. Coming in at number  three he is always a good bet to top score (4/1), if you fancy him to score another century you can back him at 9/2.

Kevin Pietersen scored a much needed 80 in the 2nd test but was still not at his best, being dropped four times in a scratchy innings.  Despite the nature of the innings the fact he has runs under his belt should give the talented batsman confidence and is 11/10 to get another half century in the first innings.

Alistair Cook has two matches in which to ensure his place in the England Ashes squad. Nothing he has done this summer suggests a change of form is imminent. His poor footwork and shot selection has shown him to be completely out of form and confidence. He is just 5/4 to score less than 24 runs in the first innings.

The Oval is generally a happy hunting ground for spinners and Graeme Swann should play a major part in this game, he is 9/1 to win the man of the match award for the second game running.

All eyes will be on Stuart Broad after he was fined 50% of his match fee for "throwing the ball in a dangerous manner". He will be on his best behaviour here and is 11/4 to be the top English Bowler.

Overall, I think this will be another comfortable win for England and unless there is a marked improvement from the visitors or adverse weather an innings win for the hosts (10/1) could be a possibility.



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