In the balance

The Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium Abu Dhabi. Courtesy of fotopedia

After a dismal first test in Dubai, England took to the field in Abu Dhabi looking to make amends for the embarrassing 10 wicket defeat inflicted by Pakistan. It can’t be denied that the world number one side were truly out-classed by the Pakistani side. Playing at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium, since Pakistan isn’t deemed safe for the event, England will need to improve on their two poor batting performances in Dubai.

Renowned as a good batting pitch, the side winning the toss would be looking to bat first in the good early conditions. England made one change to the side, bringing spinner Monty Panesar, a man who hasn’t featured for England in tests since 2009, into the side to replace paceman Chris Tremlett, who picked up an injury and looked off the pace in the first test.

Things seemed to go from bad to worse for England, as captain Andrew Strauss lost the toss and his opposite number Misbah-ul-Haq decided to have a bat. The new ball seemed to have very little effect early on for the seam bowlers, as Broad and Anderson came away wicket-less from their opening spells. Pakistan openers Taufeeq Umar and Mohammad Hafeez took the total passed 50 without the loss of a wicket.

It was the impact of the ‘spin twins’ Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar that got the breakthrough for England. First up was Graeme Swann. After getting the ball to spin violently passed the outside edge of  the left-handed Umar’s bat, Swann cleverly disguised an arm ball. Umar left the ball to see it careering into his stumps. 10 runs later, it was Panesar’s turn to join the wicket takers. After dropping a caught and bowled opportunity, Monty bowled Hafeez for 31 with the score on 61-2.

The experienced Younus Khan and Azhar Ali looked to recover the situation for Pakistan. However, it was Stuart Broad who came back to spoil their partnership. After adding 38 runs, Broad clean bowled both Khan and Ali for 24 runs, leaving Pakistan in a tough position with the score at 103-4. It was captain ul-Haq and Asad Shafiq who recovered the situation for Pakistan. They put on a 100 run stand, before Swann trapped Shafiq LBW.

After the new ball, Broad and Anderson returned to the attack, looking to grab a few quick wickets before the close. Both looked dangerous, but it was Broad who grabbed the wicket of Akmal, leaving him with impressive figures of 3-47 from 23 overs. England weren’t done there. Swann bowled Rehman for a duck, leaving Pakistan 256-7 at the close.

England’s day could have been a lot better had Jimmy Anderson not dropped Misbah just before the tea break. Misbah ended the day with an onslaught hitting Panesar for two 6’s to take him to an unbeaten overnight score of 83.

Strauss seemed extremely reliant on Panesar throughout the day to bowl from one end. The spinner bowled 33 overs taking 1-91, from an end which the other bowlers seemed reluctant to bowl. Panesar’s economical bowling from this end arguably created enough pressure to take wickets at the other end. His spin partner Swann was impressive taking 3-52 off his 18 overs.

Both sides will be looking to have a positive start to day two, with England hoping to limit Pakistan to less than 300. England will need to bat with better technique and mentality than in the first test if they are to win this test.

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