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Pak looking to square series

London: England will undergo another searching examination at the hands of an increasingly potent Pakistan attack in the final Test starting at Lord’s on Thursday.

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 teammates “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 said.

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.

Mohammed 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, Mohammed Aamer, 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. “We chatted about it and I think it’s a case of bringing the game back to its simplest form, and that is backing your gameplan, reacting well to the conditions and what the bowlers are doing.”

Pakistan received another boost on Tuesday with the news that pace bowler Umar Gul, who missed the Oval Test with a hamstring injury, was likely to be available for selection. (Reuters)

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