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Pakistan v England 3rd Test Preview: Tourists aim for series whitewash

With the series already in the bag, England have an historic opportunity to secure a 3-0 series victory over hosts Pakistan by winning the final Test in Karachi.

The Three Lions already have an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series thanks to thrilling victories in Rawalpindi and Multan, but captain Ben Stokes and his side are very unlikely to take their foot off the pedal just yet.

What: Pakistan v England, 3rd Test
Where: National Stadium, Karachi, Pakistan
When: 05:00, Saturday 17th December
How to watch: Sky Sports Cricket
Odds: Pakistan 11/8, England 13/8, Draw 3/1

National Stadium a fortress for Pakistan

If England are to complete a series sweep, they will have to become only the third visiting side to win at the National Stadium in Karachi.

Forty-four previous Tests at the venue have seen Pakistan register 23 victories, with 19 matches drawn and the only successes for tourists coming when England won by six wickets in 2000 and South Africa triumphed by 160 runs seven years later.

The good news for England is that in their seven previous Tests at the National Stadium they have only tasted defeat once and that was a narrow three-wicket loss in 1984 - when the hosts limped to 66-7 in the fourth innings to edge home.

Options aplenty for skipper Stokes

The series to date can only be described as a huge success for England, with batters Ben Duckett and Harry Brook excelling to give added depth to the top-order, while seamer Ollie Robinson has definitively erased doubts about his stamina in the five-day game.

Now the question is, do England stick with what they've got or give opportunities to some fringe players?

Ben Foakes, Keaton Jennings and Jamie Overton will hope it is the latter, while there is the intriguing prospect of teenage leg-spinner Rehan Ahmed being thrown in for a Test debut at the age of 18.

Will Jacks and Jack Leach have been adequate without overly impressing, so the temptation might be to see if the England tyro can have a similar impact to that which Pakistan spinner Abrar Ahmed had on his debut in the second Test.

Should Rehan Ahmed be drafted in, he is 9/2 to be Top 1st Inns Bowler for England.

With the bat, much of the success has been founded on the efforts of Duckett and Brook, with Joe Root and Ben Stokes having not made much of an impact.

Duckett, 5/1 to be Top 1st Inns Batter for England, has impressed massively in making 249 runs at 62.25 across the first two Tests, having been recalled six years after a torrid time against Bangladesh and India.

The 28-year-old looks like he could offer England the left-handed firepower at the top of the order that they have lacked since the days of Marcus Trescothick - who is now a member of the coaching set-up.

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Problems pile up for Pakistan

While England could hardly have asked for things to go any better in the first two Test matches, hosts Pakistan have endured a torrid time, especially with the ball.

Their pace ranks have been depleted by injuries to both Naseem Shah and Haris Rauf, while star left-armer Shaheen Shah Afridi has not been seen at all due to a knee problem sustained in the T20 World Cup final loss to England.

The bright spot came with the 11-wicket debut of Abrar Ahmed in the second Test in Multan and it will be interesting to see how England cope with the mystery spinner now that they have had a proper look at him.

Abrar is priced at 2/1 to be Top 1st Inns Bowler for Pakistan in Karachi, having become only the second bowler from his country to complete a ten-wicket haul on Test debut.

With the bat, in truth, Pakistan have done very little wrong, with most of their top order having made runs at times in the series.

Currently top of their averages is Saud Shakeel, who made his debut in the first Test in Rawalpindi and who has registered scores of 37, 76, 63 and 94 to date.

The 27-year-old left-hander will be eager to register a first Test century to top off a fine first series and he is available at 5/1 to be Top 1st Inns Batter for Pakistan in Karachi.

Prediction

It's a tough call for this final Test, with Pakistan having a strong record at the National Stadium, while England have performed admirably at the venue in the past.

There will no doubt be extra motivation for the hosts to restore some pride and avoid a series sweep, but England under the leadership of Stokes appear to be relentless in their pursuit of victories.

The Three Lions have won eight of the nine Tests they have played since June, with their only loss an innings reverse at the hands of South Africa at Lord's in August.

With that run of form in mind, it seems likely that England will again come out on top and you can be sure that they will not be settling for a draw at any stage.

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