Alastair Cook, Joe Root
Alastair Cook and Joe Root will once again hold the key for England in the batting department.Reuters
The first two test matches of the England-Pakistan series have been interesting, with Alastair Cook's team losing the first and winning the second. It is evenly poised at 1-1, and the third Test at Edgbaston in Birmingham will prove to be an important one, with both teams keen to emerge victorious, and take 2-1 lead.
Pakistan, after an impressive showing in the first match, were completely outplayed in all departments of the game in Manchester. They looked a different team when leg-spinner Yasir Shah could not weave his magic through. England batsmen, hence, were in no trouble, scoring big runs. Skipper Cook and Joe Root were brilliant against the spinner, who only managed to take a single wicket. Cook scored 105 runs, while Root hit a fantastic double ton (254).

In the third Test, Pakistan need to take wickets at regular intervals, and dismiss the likes of Cook and Root early. Pakistan captain Misbah Ul Haq considers the duo to be backbone of England's batting line-up.

"In every team there are key players and at the moment those two are in really good form. If you really have to put pressure on the opposition, it's important to get their main players out because those are the two pillars of their batting," Misbah said.

"Psychologically, that can also give you an advantage and damage the opposition if you can get them early, because other [members of the England] batting line-up are struggling at the moment. That's really important for us to just get them [Cook and Root] early and put them [England] under pressure."

Pakistan batsmen also need to step up a gear as they were all out for 198 and 234 runs in the first and second innings respectively at Old Trafford. They can use their recent practice game against Worcestershire as an inspiration to perform against England. Shan Masood and Azhar Ali scored a half-century each, but they must be aware of the quality bowling line-up of England, which troubled them in Manchester.

England have been forced to make a change with Ben Stokes suffering a calf injury. Cook has decided to replace the all-rounder with Steve Finn, who will bolster England's pace attack, which already includes James Anderson, Chris Woakes and Stuart Broad. Though England have some solid batsmen and quality bowlers, Alex Hales, James Vince and Gary Ballance also needs to contribute with the bat in the third Test.

The English skipper has asked "Finn not to worry too much" in the Third test.

"Not to worry too much about it. He sometimes can worry too much about it. He cares deeply about playing for England and doesn't want to let anyone down. He's a huge talent. So you just try and tell him to relax and play. That doesn't always happen," Cook said.

"He obviously missed out on the last Test and that will have hurt him. When telling him he wasn't playing, you saw that disappointment and hunger almost straight away. And telling him he was playing today, you saw that glint in his eye."

England, after a dominating show in the second Test, come into this match with great confidence. If they can play a similar level of all-round cricket at Edgbaston, England can be in the driver's seat. They have a good record in the venue as well, winning three of their last five matches.

Where to watch live

The third Test match between England and Pakistan in Birmingham is scheduled to start at 11:00 a.m. local time (3:30 p.m. IST and 6:00 a.m. EST). There is no live TV coverage in India. 

UK viewers can tune into Sky Sports 2 and Sky Sports HD 2 to watch England vs Pakistan 3rd Test live. Watch Sky Sports will stream the match live in UK as well.

Audience in the US can switch to ESPN3 for the live coverage of England vs Pakistan 3rd Test and stream the same on Watch ESPN.

FoxSports will broadcast England vs Pakistan 3rd Test match live in Australia., and live streaming on Foxtel Play.