Saturday, January 21, 2012

The First Test: Pakistan v England, Day Three

Facing a 100+ run deficit, a good spinner and the history of England in the subcontinent, will England show fight and pull off a Brisbane 2010, or will they reassure us that the England we grew up watching from behind a cushion, probably weeping whenever the grainy statistics came up with the words "slow" in the bowling action column, is still in there, somewhere?

Here's what happened on a quite eventful day 3 from Dubai way back in mid January.

9 balls into the day, Broad strikes. 
Gul is the man/duck to go. He, suitably, goes for a duck as he's caught by Morgan at point. 
Pakistan are 289-8, their lead creeping closer to 100.
It wouldn't be a modern day series/tournament without a DRS controversy. Saeed Ajmal is the victim.
He is, seemingly, caught by Cook off the bowling of Swann...
But Ajmal's not happy and reviews the decision. 
Unfortunately for Ajmal (and DRS), he is out of Hotspot's range. There's "no conclusive evidence" and Ajmal has to go for 12. Pakistan are 319-9, but Ajmal is incredibly unlucky to not have his decision overturned.
Adnan Akmal's still in and he reaches a 50 off Swann.
He plays a delicate shot down to third man...
Where Anderson manages to chase him down and Akmal gets the required 2 for his 50.
The sparse crowd is saluted. 
Pakistan's lead continues to grow. Tremlett is looking woefully out of nick...
As Akmal takes advantage of poor bowling and smacks one through the covers. Morgan cannot reach it.
Akmal, having received a reprieve by Pietersen the previous day, is the last man out. He comes down the pitch to Swann...
Misses, and gets stumped by Matt Prior.
He goes for 61 as Pakistan are all out for 338. England have got some work to do.
Will England pull off a Brisbane? Or will the 2012 series against Pakistan be in similar vein to the 2005 tour?
Their hard work doesn't start at all well, as Strauss looks to play a leg side delivery from Gul.
It's caught by Akmal. Mass appealing ensues. Strauss is given out.
But the England captain does not seem happy...
And after a consultation with Cook, decides to review the decision.
But like Ajmal, there's "no conclusive evidence" to overturn the decision. In fact, it looks more out than Ajmal's and there's a noise as it passes Strauss' bat. Either he's got a chunk of wood in his back pocket or he's nicked it. England are 6-1, it's guaranteed that England will ramble on about DRS for a bit and Trott's next man in.
Gul feeds the Trott where he seems to most enjoy them, on the pads...
It's duly clipped through midwicket and to the boundary for four.
Cook, in flash backs to some appalling shot selections during the India series and forgetting Strauss' dismissal, decides to play at a delivery from Gul down the leg side.
It's gloved behind. He's caught. It's 25-2.
This shot was so appalling that I can't even caption it.
Seriously. It was horrendous and it still gives me nightmares.
It was almost as awful as that one Brad Haddin played in Cape Town. 
Alright, I'll caption it. Pietersen goes for a pull shot that really wasn't there. It's caught by Rehman and England are 25-3. Gul's "on fire" (even though it might as well be the brains of the English batsmen in a foul barbecue) as England have already shot themselves in the foot and Ajmal hasn't even found himself near the ball.
The Good Ship England finds that the string quartet has started up as Ian Bell  faces up to Ajmal.
He's undone by a doosra and there's no hesitation in the finger being raised.
Bell decides to review...
But is well and truly a goner. He trudges off for 4 and as punishment for shamefully wasting England's final referral, will be forced to watch his dismissal repeatedly on a laptop in the England dressing room. Because that's what I had to endure, only disappointingly not in the England dressing room. I digress, it's 35-4.
Eoin Morgan is next in. 
He gets 4 off Rehman and brings up England's 50. 

But Morgan can only make 14 before he succumbs to spin.
Rehman gets his outside edge, he's caught behind my Akmal...
And it's 74-5. It's a grim situation.
Like Pietersen, this photo contains a shot of such sheer awful magnitude that it is not worthy of a caption.
Apart from the obligatory reference to Brad Haddin's shot at Cape Town.
Trott goes for 49, it's 87-6 and all the crockery is now floating in the ocean surrounding the sinking Good Ship England.
There's always hope when Matt Prior's in!
Never mind. He's struck on the pads by one that seemed to keep low. 
He's out LBW for 4 and England are 87-7. Pass the party poppers, it's a great start to 2012 for England.
Things go from bad to worse for England as Swann is judged to be out LBW.
But the umpire decides to check for a no-ball...
And luckily for Swann (and England, even if it would take a miracle of Biblical proportions to get them out of this mess), Gul overstepped the crease. He's denied his 5fer. 
Swann decides to do what he does best and goes on the counter attack.
He smacks a six off Rehman.

Broad decides to go for the big shot as well...
It looks to be heading for the boundary...
But it isn't and it's caught by Shafiq. Broad goes for 17, it's 135-8 and the Good Ship England's string quartet has nearly stopped playing (I'll stop now).
Tremlett occupies the crease (and most of the pitch here) for all of one ball.
He goes for a golden duck, caught by Hafeez off the bowling of Rehman. 135-9. Start the tuk tuk.
England avoid an innings defeat thanks to a four from Swann (I'm not sure when this happened, my notes are all over the place I'm afraid), and it allows Jimmy and Swann to have a bit of fun (the string quartet are gurgling - last one, I promise). Jimmy decides to laugh in the face of Ian Bell by taking on Ajmal...
And smack him for a six into the crowd of people dressed as blue seats (popular costume this winter it would appear)
Swann goes for one big shot too many and ends up playing a crossed bat shot off Ajmal...
Straight to Shafiq. England are 160 all out, with Swann going for 39. Anderson is not out on 15.
Swann's wicket hands Ajmal his 10th wicket of the match and Pakistan an incredibly challenging target of 15 runs. 
Pakistan don't really need to do much. Hafeez gets an edge off a decent delivery from Anderson...
Which flies past Swann and down to the third man boundary for four. It's followed by a 3. Pakistan are off the mark and already pretty much halfway there.
Haffeez and Taufeeq Umar see out two maidens, but then Hafeez takes advantage of a Broad delivery with width and cuts him...
Straight to the boundary for four.
The winning runs come two balls later, as Hafeez goes for a pull off a short ball...
And it goes to the boundary for four. Pakistan win by 10 wickets and have humiliated the "number one team" in the world.
For Pakistan, it is a thoroughly deserved victory. They have outplayed England in most departments, with Ajmal bamboozling the English batsmen on day one and the batsmen coming through some stiff tests from the England bowlers. If it hadn't been for some slack fielding, we might well have got a better Test match on our hands. Or one that finished in 2 days.
For Pakistan, Misbah and the team are delighted. For the Good Ship England, it's off to Abu Dhabi, where they will hope that the batting will improve. Will Monty play? Is Chris Tremlett injured? Did the batting improve? The answers were, of course, yes, yes and a resounding no. To the final note of the string quartet.
Pakistan win the match by 10 wickets. Saeed Ajmal is named player of the match for his overall match figures of 10-97. There are many other awards, but I didn't have the will to live to sit through the ceremony. Congratulations if you did.

England ultimately lost the series 3-0, yet won the ODI and Twenty20 series 4-0 and 2-1 respectively. This era of cricket is quite perplexing at times...

This series was a bit of a write off due to hard drive failure, but I should be back for the Sri Lanka Test series. This is dependent on there being no more laptop malfunctions/me not having been drowned in paperwork (I have 15000+ words to write/edit over Easter as well as revision, so please understand that doing this duck cricket is a way for me to escape from that reality for an evening). It's about a year late, but thanks for sticking with me. Whoever you are. Probably my dad. Hey dad!

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