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Last Updated: Monday, 28 November 2005, 09:17 GMT
Jonathan Agnew column
BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew
By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent in Lahore

Somehow, England must conjure up a victory in a match that is likely to be seriously affected by the weather and bad light.

A total of 70 overs were lost in the Faisalabad Test and, here in Lahore where the start time has been pushed back by half an hour because of early morning dew, we can expect even more.

P Collingwood
Paul Collingwood has failed to make the most of his first four Test appearances

This is compounded by the only Friday play in the series. Because this is the holy day in Pakistan, the lunch break is extended to an hour.

Although it is likely that we will see the floodlights fired up towards the end of each day, the regulations will ensure that these are only of minimal benefit.

Basically, as soon as artificial light takes over from natural light, the umpires must act.

A fascinating development - and one we did not expect - is the condition of the pitch. On Sunday, it was wet and covered in live grass.

The groundstaff will probably see to it that the greenness is cut away, but because of the grey and decidedly chilly conditions that now prevail in Lahore, there might be nothing they can do about the moisture.

This must surely give the seam bowlers some help - but with that comes a concern that if the surface of the pitch is soft, it could be damaged by the fast bowlers and break up.

That would pave the way for the slow bowlers to find spin, and uneven bounce could make batting treacherous.

England seem certain to give James Anderson his first cap of the tour.

This seems a sensible move - not least because England's spinners have made no impact so far.

James Anderson
James Anderson may have some helpful conditions for swing

But it will be interesting to see what Michael Vaughan does if he wins his first toss of the series.

A strengthened pace attack on a damp pitch points to fielding first, but any serious worries about the deterioration of the pitch should always make you bat when it is at its best.

We know that Vaughan will open the batting because of Andrew Strauss' return home, and Paul Collingwood is set to return at number four.

The Durham batsman urgently needs a good game here. He is an outstanding fielder, and a first choice member of the one-day team, but he has failed to make the most of his four Test appearances, having a top score of 36 in eight innings.

The series began with Collingwood having leapfrogged over Ian Bell, but given a lucky break through Vaughan's injury, Bell has batted superbly to regain his lost ground.

Pakistan must also ring the changes. Younis Khan has pulled out of the game following the death of his brother, while Shahid Afridi is serving his ban.


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