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In numbers | England and their struggle against the tail-enders

England were well on course to folding Pakistan for a sub-par total, but some street-smart cricket from Rizwan frustrated the home attack.  It hasn't been the first time that England have struggled to get rid of the tail-end lineup. 

Aratrick Mondal Aratrick Mondal
New Delhi Updated on: August 15, 2020 19:29 IST
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Naseem Shah and Mohammad Rizwan

All England required was one wicket when day 2 had resumed after a light shower in Southampton on Friday. Babar Azam's strong resistance against the English attack in the first session, which saw the youngster scoring four cautious runs off the four overs against James Anderson, helped Pakistan smoothly sail to 155 for five at the end of of the first hour with the vice-captain five runs short of his half-century. But just after lunch, Pakistan lost their settled batsman, leaving a struggling Mohammad Rizwan at the crease along with the tail-enders. Rizwan was still on 14 then. 

England, with a change of plan to bowl much fuller, made further inroads by sending back Yasir Shah while Shaheen Afridi was run out. The No.7 batsman, who was on 28 from 71 deliveries, had a task cut and responded intelligently against the pacers amid the bowler-friendly condition to notch up an unbeaten 60 that guided Pakistan from 176 for 8 to 223 for nine. He was indeed ably supported by Mohammad Abbas who faced 19 deliveries for his two and was dismissed five overs after England had taken the second new ball. 

England were well on course to folding Pakistan for a sub-par total, but some street-smart cricket from Rizwan frustrated the home attack. It hasn't been the first time that England have struggled to get rid of the tail-end lineup. 

Among the major Test-playing nations, the tail end (7-11) averages the most against England since the start of 2018 - 20.87 - while scoring the most number of fifty-plus scores - 22, off which four are hundreds. Not only so, visiting tail-end lineups average more in England, the given period, than in any other country among all Test-playing nations with as many as three centuries and 10 fifties. 

Tail-enders (7-11) against major Test-playing nations since 2018...

Opposition Matches Innings Runs Highest score Average Strike Rate 100 50
v England 33 274 4363 202* 20.87 53.11 4 18
v India 24 215 3464 137* 20.02 50.57 2 8
v Australia 23 198 2974 159* 18.82 52.55 2 10
v Sri Lanka 22 157 2225 107 18.08 47.77 1 7
v West Indies 18 139 1908 136 17.66 50.63 2 7
v Pakistan 18 126 1706 129 17.23 49.59 1 8
v South Africa 21 171 2182 93 15.92 59.21 0 5
v Bangladesh 15 102 1269 83 15.28 50.63 0 4
v New Zealand 18 144 1667 101 14.49 46.79 1 6

One of the most noteworthy performances by a tail-end batsman was by Jason Holder whose unbeaten 202 earlier last year revived West Indies from 120 for six. Another was during the Ashes last year when Australia bounced back from 122 for eight to 284. Later in New Zealand, England were frustrated by another seventh-wicket stand, by Mitchell Santner and BJ Watling, who added 251 runs to the board. 

What makes this struggle difficult to understand is that the top-6 average 30.94 against England and 33.37 in England, the second-best against an opposition attack among major Test-playing nations after India's 23.67 and 26.55, respectively. 

Opposition Matches Innings Runs Highest score Average Strike Rate 100 50
v Bangladesh 15 138 5739 243 43.8 55.26 18 27
v Sri Lanka 22 236 8638 264* 39.62 54.76 23 38
v New Zealand 18 200 6915 226 36.2 46.05 17 37
v South Africa 21 232 7755 254* 35.25 53.87 13 41
v Pakistan 18 177 5782 335* 34.83 49.2 11 27
v Australia 23 270 8352 193 32.37 46.51 16 45
v West Indies 18 196 5926 176 31.68 50.22 10 32
v England 33 363 10829 211 30.94 48.17 20 56
v India 24 273 6202 160 23.67 47.12 5 35

On Friday, England dearly missed Jofra Archer, who has a good record against tail-enders. While Anderson, Broad and Chris Woakes looked devastating with the new ball, the tactic of drawing the edge against tail-enders haven't been a fruitful tactic. Brute pace and bounce, on the other hand, can prove useful, bot of which Archer can produce.

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