Iftikhar Ahmed makes his Test debut at The Oval

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London; England captain Alastair Cook won the toss and elected to bat in the fourth and final Test against Pakistan at The Oval on Thursday.

The opener made his decision despite cloudy overhead conditions and a green-tinged pitch both offering the promise to assist pace bowlers.

England were unchanged from the side that won the third Test by 141 runs at Edgbaston last week, after deciding against giving a home debut to leg-spinner Adil Rashid.

James Vince was passed fit to play despite a finger injury he suffered at Edgbaston which prevented the Hampshire batsman from continuing to field in the slips.

Pakistan made two changes, with top-order batsman and occasional off-spinner Iftikhar Ahmed given a Test debut in place of struggling opener Mohammad Hafeez.

Meanwhile left-arm quick Wahab Riaz was recalled in place of fellow paceman Rahat Ali for his third match of the series after missing out at Edgbaston.

Pakistan, whose four-man attack has been struggling for fitness late in recent Tests, now had an extra bowling option in Iftikhar.

Victory for England in this match allied to India failing to win the final two matches of their Test series in the West Indies would see Cook’s men climb to the top of the world Test rankings.

If England avoid defeat at The Oval they will hold series titles against all the other nine Test-playing nations.

Teams

England: Alastair Cook (capt), Alex Hales, Joe Root, James Vince, Gary Ballance, Jonny Bairstow (wkt), Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad, Steven Finn, James Anderson

Pakistan: Sami Aslam, Azhar Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), Asad Shafiq, Sarfraz Ahmed (wkt), Wahab Riaz, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Amir, Sohail Khan

Umpires: Bruce Oxenford (AUS), Marais Erasmus (RSA)

TV umpire: Joel Wilson (WIS)

Match referee: Richie Richardson (WIS).

 

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