Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Test 2 | Day 1

Toss: Misbah won the toss and elected to bat first. This is only the 2nd time that they are batting first in the 14 tests that he has captained. Last time they did so they beat the West Indies in Guyana to square the 2 match series in May.

Selection: Junaid Khan, the Lancastrian overseas player in 2011 who claimed a memorable 5 wicket haul against the Sri Lankans here in October came in for Cheema whereas for the visitors Monty got a go with Tremlett’s injury ahead of Finn and Onions as England fielded 2 specialist spinners for the first time since the opening Ashes test match at Cardiff in July 2009. Apart from that both parties were unchanged.

Pitch and conditions: It was meant to be placid and extremely unresponsive. A dreading experience for the bowlers was awaited. However, there was turn and purchase and to some degree extravagant turn on day 1 for the slower men and it was chillier than usual in the UAE. The crowd was by and large disappointing and rather empty.

Ball of the day: There were several - Monty getting Hafeez with an arm ball the very next delivery after he spilled a caught and bowled opportunity. Hafeez misread the length as he went back looking to cut, but the ball skidded through straight to shatter the furniture. Monty was delighted.

Shot of the day: Taufeeq off driving Anderson with a firm push down the ground to beat mid off and race away to the fence with excellent timing to open his account and get off the mark on the first delivery he faced in the very first over and 4th ball of the test match with the close to perfect off drive as he capitalised on somewhat of a half volley, probably looking for some swing in the air.

Action: Misbah taking Monty on with consecutive 6s over long with some clean striking early in his innings as he took the attack to the bowler coming in at the usual 3 down position in just the 44th over. In the 94th over Misbah took Monty again, it was the last over of the day and he got back to back 6s again with some big blows.

POD: Misbah ul Haq who registered his 2nd half century of the series with a classical old school test innings where a time consuming crease occupation was demonstrated to grind out the bowling, churn out the runs gradually, frustrate the opposition, overcome passages when the going was tough, hold the innings together, set a foundation and try and squeeze the venom out of the bowling over a longer period. The key was valuing, respecting and priding his wicket as if his life was depending on it and showing a chanceless approach for digging in deep and long. Misbah, the Pakistan captain will want to add at least 40 more to his score tomorrow in order to earn a well deserved and hard fought gutsy and enduring century.


Morning: 73/2 (31) – Eng

Afternoon: 104/2 (34) – Pak

Evening: 79/3 (29) - Eng

Day: England

Series:Pak 7 Eng 5 /12


Hafeez and Taufeeq have 10 50+ stand in 30 test innings together and got their 2nd of the series in effectively 2 innings

All top 4 batsmen had their stumps pegged

Cook and Strauss will become the 1st English pair to appear in 100 innings together during this test match

Team Pakistan have posted 330 or more 10 times in the 1st innings in 13 tests under the leadership of Misbah ul Haq

Azhar Ali has been dismissed by Broad 4 times in the 36 test innings he has had at test level with 10 coming against England

Pakistan have fielded the same top 6 for 7 tests in a row now

Both test matches which have been played at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium have ended in high scoring draws

The Electric Fence aka Misbah has scored 13 50+ scores in 22 test innings as captain including 7 NOs in that package

Shafiq has 5 50+ scores in 16 test innings

Prediction for tomorrow: Pakistan 345 AO (all depends on Misbah)
England: 179/3

Looking ahead: Misbah needs to bat right to the end and take the odd calculated blow in between and stretch this total as far as possible. If he could last at least 90 minutes or more in the morning and help Pakistan get above 330 that will be a job well done. 300 has to be the minimum target. I feel from an early look that this test will be decided in the 3rd innings and if Pakistan batsmen do not falter they should be able to hang on for at least a draw if not better. It looks like if England have improved on their batting display in Dubai that they will at least get a lead and go in front here and then unleash their spinners in the 3rd innings hoping to get Pakistan skittled relatively cheaply with enough time to knock off the runs and square the series. Pakistan will be more than happy to draw this test and maintain the series lead. The top order MUST bat considerably better 2nd time around, especially Azhar and Younis who have failed so far in the series in order to avoid getting bowled out quickly and give England a strong shout of coming back and pushing for the win. Killing and taking time out of the game will be important from their point of view.

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