Pakistan v England 2012 January 16, 2012

The tortoise can triumph

When Pakistan play England, to paraphrase Coldplay, every series is a watershed. Confrontations are frequent, disagreements a ritual
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When Pakistan play England, to paraphrase Coldplay, every series is a watershed. Confrontations are frequent, disagreements a ritual. Fifty years of competition have brought us a rivalry infused with socio-political significance. When the malodour of colonial rule began to evaporate, radicals nearer to home and neo-conservatives abroad blew another ill wind through the senses of these cricketing combatants. Both parties have periodically made pledges of mutual respect and bonhomie but the heat of battle tends to create heat, not light.

Certain Pakistan cricketers brought disgrace to English shores in 2010, and that memory will be hard to shake as this series unravels. England arrive in the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan's exile home, with a stain on their domestic game courtesy of the recent spot-fixing verdict against Mervyn Westfield. As unfortunate as the Westfield case is, it serves to remind players and commentators that corruption in cricket is not a uniquely Pakistani problem, ironically helping to tone down the tension of this series.

Indeed, a series that might have been previewed with dread has become a stimulus for enthusiasm. England are undisputed world champions, Pakistan a surprisingly close second in Test success in the last 12 months. In that period, England scored at the fastest run rate of all teams, while Pakistan bettered only Zimbabwe; forget Imran versus Botham and Wasim versus Atherton, welcome tortoise versus hare.

England's status has yet to be challenged in Asian conditions, and the conditions in UAE approximate closely to those in Lahore and Karachi. Misbah-ul-Haq's side has been strong in this environment, even without Saeed Ajmal's teesra. The cricket in this series should be fascinating enough before the inevitable controversies interfere.

Despite a successful year both teams face selection issues. Tim Bresnan's injury means that England lose a little balance to their team, which makes the inclusion of a second spinner a bigger gamble. Pakistan's success in UAE has been based on depth in quality spin-bowling, a lesson England would do well to heed.

Pakistan's current batsmen are generally less adept against spin than other Asian sides, and Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar will generate more panic than James Anderson and his fellow pacemen. England, though, might be reluctant to start the first Test with Anderson and Broad as their only fast bowlers.

Pakistan's strength remains with their bowlers, where Ajmal will pose the greatest threat to England's formidable batting line up. With Umar Gul's ability to reverse swing and Mohammad Hafeez's back-up offspin, Pakistan's attack has more depth in these conditions than England's. Wahab Riaz, a player who adds some extra pace, batting potential, as well as needle to the contest, would be my choice to support Gul. Pakistan retain that precious ability to plunder wickets in sudden bursts, turning a match on its head. England will need to be wary of such moments.

The key to the contest, however, might be scoring rate. Pakistan's defensive approach has been born of necessity, and plays to the strengths of its batsmen, especially the senior pros Misbah and Younis Khan. The tactic has worked admirably thus far but Pakistan might have to risk a little to challenge England, the best team they have played in this new era. A need for speed argues for a recall for Umar Akmal, an attacking batsman capable of middle-order acceleration, probably in place of Asad Shafiq. If that change is made it will signal a subtle change in mindset in the Pakistan camp.

The next few weeks are important for both countries; England determined to underline their number one status and Pakistan facing a stern examination of their revival. The series seems set to be hard fought, decided by a small margin. The result is a hard one to call, which adds to the anticipation, but 'home' advantage will give Pakistan an edge and Misbah's tuk-tuk merchants have every chance of completing a tortoise-like crawl to victory.

Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Subhan on February 14, 2012, 13:46 GMT

    The thing is why don't Pakistan bring in a more expierienced player like Shoib Aktar,although he's retiered,they should drop Wahab Riaz.He is'nt doing anything.Pakistan also need to put Afridi up the order because he did well yesterday in the position he was in but he could have done it better up the order so he is'nt under preasure as the last batsmen in the line-up,if he was up the order he would'nt be under preasure and would do his normal thing and get more runs on the board to relax the line-up.Another awful desicion is why drop Abdul Razzaq and play Shoib Malik,Malik is a brilliant player but he has'nt done well since 2009,Razzaq did brilliantly then and does brilliatly now,when ever Pakistan's in trouble there's alwayes Razzaq,for instance the odi in Dubai against South Africa in 2010 he pulled them to the win and another instance in the 3rd or 4th odi against England in 2010 he was the man of the match for scoring 45 in around 15 20 balls.so Pakista should've played him.

  • SN Qazi on February 13, 2012, 11:11 GMT

    One of the mysteries in Pakistan cricket is why some players who have not performed for ages can continue to remain members of the team and play . Shoaib Malik is one such example . I suppose after 15 or 20 innings if he performs in one inning an attempt will be made to justify the inclusion . The other question I have is why the players from Karachi are discarded whenever they fail to perform in even one inning ?

  • faheem on February 11, 2012, 7:27 GMT

    thz is ridiclus Misbah request to select shoaib malike in pak team.he don,t deserve to stay in playing11.infact Misbah don,t deserve it..he has not a match winning player..just like jackal the approaches he always made when he is on strike..shoaib malik is a good friend of misbah..thz is not good to generate benefit in professional cricket from relationship..all should find new talent just like umer akmal and junaid khan.

  • Saleem Nasir Qazi on February 9, 2012, 5:29 GMT

    What a terrible decision . Dropping Abdul Razaq and in his place selecting Shoaib Malik is an atrocious decision . I wonder who is behind this terrible decision . Shoaib Malik has not performed at all since 2009 .

  • Hussain on January 27, 2012, 18:12 GMT

    We have to induct technically sound batsmen in our line up if we have to improve our run rate & perform against better teams. Last year it was against lowly rated WI,BAN & ZIM that we earned wins. In the current scenario it is commendable but we have to look forward & face AUS,Eng & SA. Misbah & YK are down the hill & may play for few more years. We don,t see any batsman in our line up to shoulder its future responsilbility except may be Azhar or Hafeez. Rest are just surviving.

  • Galib Yusuf on January 19, 2012, 5:15 GMT

    @Nick, maybe you should read the whole sentence before making a comment. Kamran said IN DUBAI condition and not in British condition. Historically,English bowlers had the hardest time co-op with the hot and humid conditions of the subcontinent, especially in India and Pakistan.I would say this though that England do have some very good bowlers. Ironically, The first two days of the test proved Kamran right, isn't it or you think the way BOB Willis think? By the way, right after Ajmal's 7 wickets he questioned legality of his bowling actions. Why could not he talk a week before that? Because he did not think english batsmen will be fooled so easily as they did the first day.....

  • waterbuffalo on January 19, 2012, 1:55 GMT

    Agree with Farhan (second post) the slower the better, why swing the bat and lose by the third day? Sometimes, limited, boring batsmen are more useful than talented batsmen. Give me Asim Kamal over Umar Akmal. Only batsmen I really miss is Yusuf. Imagine a middle order of Younis, Yusuf and Misbah, still I don't believe in miracles, give Azhar and Asad a chance, I am worried Pakistan might end up like India, too many old players who have seen it all and who do have the hunger anymore. Well done Ajmal, you have a beautiful action. Let them say what they want. Be as boring as you want Pakistan.

  • Faraz (the first Fara on all of Kamran's blogs) on January 18, 2012, 14:51 GMT

    We are all wanting for Misbah to show a bit more agression but I disagree with Mr. Abassi, if Umar Akmal needs to be introduced, it has to be in place of Azhar Ali not Asad Shafiq. Azhar like Misbah, is the one grinding the opposition with the boring defensive approach - if Azhar Ali is replaced by Umar Akmal at No.3, the entire defensive posture will change automagically. No need to bring in Umar Akmal at No.6 - that would be a waste of talent. and believe me, Umar needs to be in the second test with Wahab - why Mohsin sticks with burger Cheema is beyond me - Cheema is a bonafide first class cricketer at best. Umar Gul needs Wahab Riaz from the other end and finally, Pakistan need to rethink Abdur Rehamn...with Hafeez and Ajmal, I think it opens the door for Junaid Khan.

  • BoomBoom on January 17, 2012, 14:18 GMT

    What was notable after the first day’s play was that Pakistan did not bowl a single no-ball. In the whole of England first innings there were only two extras (leg byes). It’s a good discipline coming from Pak bowlers but also shows that last year’s controversy is not completely off their mind.

  • aneeza on January 17, 2012, 14:17 GMT

    once again English media has gone maddddddd.... they have failed to cope against Saeed AJmal's TEESRA... gr888 show by PAKISTAN...

  • Subhan on February 14, 2012, 13:46 GMT

    The thing is why don't Pakistan bring in a more expierienced player like Shoib Aktar,although he's retiered,they should drop Wahab Riaz.He is'nt doing anything.Pakistan also need to put Afridi up the order because he did well yesterday in the position he was in but he could have done it better up the order so he is'nt under preasure as the last batsmen in the line-up,if he was up the order he would'nt be under preasure and would do his normal thing and get more runs on the board to relax the line-up.Another awful desicion is why drop Abdul Razzaq and play Shoib Malik,Malik is a brilliant player but he has'nt done well since 2009,Razzaq did brilliantly then and does brilliatly now,when ever Pakistan's in trouble there's alwayes Razzaq,for instance the odi in Dubai against South Africa in 2010 he pulled them to the win and another instance in the 3rd or 4th odi against England in 2010 he was the man of the match for scoring 45 in around 15 20 balls.so Pakista should've played him.

  • SN Qazi on February 13, 2012, 11:11 GMT

    One of the mysteries in Pakistan cricket is why some players who have not performed for ages can continue to remain members of the team and play . Shoaib Malik is one such example . I suppose after 15 or 20 innings if he performs in one inning an attempt will be made to justify the inclusion . The other question I have is why the players from Karachi are discarded whenever they fail to perform in even one inning ?

  • faheem on February 11, 2012, 7:27 GMT

    thz is ridiclus Misbah request to select shoaib malike in pak team.he don,t deserve to stay in playing11.infact Misbah don,t deserve it..he has not a match winning player..just like jackal the approaches he always made when he is on strike..shoaib malik is a good friend of misbah..thz is not good to generate benefit in professional cricket from relationship..all should find new talent just like umer akmal and junaid khan.

  • Saleem Nasir Qazi on February 9, 2012, 5:29 GMT

    What a terrible decision . Dropping Abdul Razaq and in his place selecting Shoaib Malik is an atrocious decision . I wonder who is behind this terrible decision . Shoaib Malik has not performed at all since 2009 .

  • Hussain on January 27, 2012, 18:12 GMT

    We have to induct technically sound batsmen in our line up if we have to improve our run rate & perform against better teams. Last year it was against lowly rated WI,BAN & ZIM that we earned wins. In the current scenario it is commendable but we have to look forward & face AUS,Eng & SA. Misbah & YK are down the hill & may play for few more years. We don,t see any batsman in our line up to shoulder its future responsilbility except may be Azhar or Hafeez. Rest are just surviving.

  • Galib Yusuf on January 19, 2012, 5:15 GMT

    @Nick, maybe you should read the whole sentence before making a comment. Kamran said IN DUBAI condition and not in British condition. Historically,English bowlers had the hardest time co-op with the hot and humid conditions of the subcontinent, especially in India and Pakistan.I would say this though that England do have some very good bowlers. Ironically, The first two days of the test proved Kamran right, isn't it or you think the way BOB Willis think? By the way, right after Ajmal's 7 wickets he questioned legality of his bowling actions. Why could not he talk a week before that? Because he did not think english batsmen will be fooled so easily as they did the first day.....

  • waterbuffalo on January 19, 2012, 1:55 GMT

    Agree with Farhan (second post) the slower the better, why swing the bat and lose by the third day? Sometimes, limited, boring batsmen are more useful than talented batsmen. Give me Asim Kamal over Umar Akmal. Only batsmen I really miss is Yusuf. Imagine a middle order of Younis, Yusuf and Misbah, still I don't believe in miracles, give Azhar and Asad a chance, I am worried Pakistan might end up like India, too many old players who have seen it all and who do have the hunger anymore. Well done Ajmal, you have a beautiful action. Let them say what they want. Be as boring as you want Pakistan.

  • Faraz (the first Fara on all of Kamran's blogs) on January 18, 2012, 14:51 GMT

    We are all wanting for Misbah to show a bit more agression but I disagree with Mr. Abassi, if Umar Akmal needs to be introduced, it has to be in place of Azhar Ali not Asad Shafiq. Azhar like Misbah, is the one grinding the opposition with the boring defensive approach - if Azhar Ali is replaced by Umar Akmal at No.3, the entire defensive posture will change automagically. No need to bring in Umar Akmal at No.6 - that would be a waste of talent. and believe me, Umar needs to be in the second test with Wahab - why Mohsin sticks with burger Cheema is beyond me - Cheema is a bonafide first class cricketer at best. Umar Gul needs Wahab Riaz from the other end and finally, Pakistan need to rethink Abdur Rehamn...with Hafeez and Ajmal, I think it opens the door for Junaid Khan.

  • BoomBoom on January 17, 2012, 14:18 GMT

    What was notable after the first day’s play was that Pakistan did not bowl a single no-ball. In the whole of England first innings there were only two extras (leg byes). It’s a good discipline coming from Pak bowlers but also shows that last year’s controversy is not completely off their mind.

  • aneeza on January 17, 2012, 14:17 GMT

    once again English media has gone maddddddd.... they have failed to cope against Saeed AJmal's TEESRA... gr888 show by PAKISTAN...

  • Ahmed on January 17, 2012, 6:52 GMT

    Why everyone want Umar Akmal and Wahab Riaz, two cricketers who've had attitude problems and a question mark of spot fixing on them ? plus Wahab Riaz is pretty useless in batting but some people like to consider him as somone who can bat ? both umar gul and wahab riaz should bat at number 10 or 11. Only slightly better than Glenn McGrath.

  • Devrup on January 17, 2012, 5:22 GMT

    With India and Sri Lanka's recent disappointing performances, I hope Pakistan plays well so that at least one Asian team is doing something. However Pakistan's batting (and of course fielding) remain very suspect.

  • Aftab Qureshi on January 17, 2012, 5:02 GMT

    I have no issue with a drawn series. It will still add to Pakistan points on the ranking table and reduce England points. Winning would obviously be wonderful but don't discount not losing to world number one.

  • Abid on January 17, 2012, 5:01 GMT

    if younis, mishba and Azhar cant stay long then Shafiq also wont stay on pitch long too. but Umar Akmal has different approach at all. It does not matter for him how pitch behaves or who the bowler is. he keeps scoring.

  • naeem aslam on January 17, 2012, 4:34 GMT

    Its difficult for Pakistan to win against England because of their defensive approach.Misbah is very much a defensive captain.

  • Liveonhope on January 17, 2012, 4:31 GMT

    Will Umar Akmal fall ill again, if for some reason Adnan Akmal is dropped? Teams are built on character, hard work and commitment not hints of talent alone; of which too we just have seen potential not converted to achievement in three years. Want to beat the Brits? Show character.

  • sheru on January 17, 2012, 4:27 GMT

    No need to bring ugly umer akmal,keep the wining team, shafiq is doing a great job so it wil be a stupid decision if akmal is given chance. Umer does deserve to be in the team as he is no other then a drama queen.

  • Engr. Zulfiqar Ali Khan on January 17, 2012, 4:19 GMT

    I think that the Current Series is going to be really tough one for Pakistan. Only after the positive performances in this series, Pakistan can emerge as a potent cricketing force to reckon. hope for the best. Just Stick to the plan, execute well and be consistant, Patent in the field.

  • Asad on January 17, 2012, 4:07 GMT

    Compliments on a very nice piece Kamran. Gripping contests ahead I am sure. Avoiding defeat at all costs should not be the motivation for Pakistan team. Mindset is going to be the key.

  • Saifullah Maan on January 17, 2012, 4:04 GMT

    saed ajmal, Hafeez and afridi are the world class spiners in the limited over form of the game....

  • Farhan on January 17, 2012, 3:55 GMT

    Umar Akmal has been given too many chances already, there are many batsmen of test calibre who have been discarded after only one or two appearances - why do we persist with Akmal when he has shown that he lacks the temperament to play tests, is a divisive influence in the team and a selfish player? Although I admit that I am biased against the Akmals because of Kamran who has single-handedly lost us matches and destroyed the careers of many bowlers.

  • basit mahmood on January 17, 2012, 3:46 GMT

    umar akmal shouldn't include in playing 11.

  • Hameed Syed on January 17, 2012, 2:26 GMT

    Pakistan is coming out of low perormances and they are now a formidable team specially in ODIs with Shahid and Razaq. Here no one is real established middle order batsman in Test except Younis .Hafeez and Misbah can be real match winners with Saeed Ajmal if they can keep it cool.Best of Luck Pakistan. The nation needs to hear and watch you guys beating the arrogant Englishmen.Go for it.

  • Mohammad Asad on January 17, 2012, 1:36 GMT

    Umar Akmal should be given chance!!!!!!! Considering the condition & track both team looks balance!!!!! The team, who will play positive, ...... will win !!!! England will be in a bit pressure to defend #1 status ..........

  • Ali on January 17, 2012, 1:35 GMT

    Wish Pakistan Best of Luck... cant wait for Ajmal's new weapon!

  • ahmed on January 17, 2012, 1:30 GMT

    It is better to loose while trying to win. There is nothing wrong in losing. Be positive and aggressive but not stupid. If you play positive cricket consistently there will be guys (there could be next generation of Saeed Anwars or Inzamam Ul Haqs waiting around the corner) who will come up and take the Pakistan Cricket to next level.

  • Saood on January 17, 2012, 1:28 GMT

    .......definitly keey Asad and not bring in Umar. Asad and Azhar need to continue to play as they both are in form and are the future of test cricket for Pakistan after Misbah and Younus are gone. They both have patience and temperament, Umar is still proving himself at the test level and should only get a chance here if some one falters. Note: this does not mean that i think Umar shouldnt play test matches, just that he shouldnt walk on in place of players that are in form.

  • Adi on January 17, 2012, 0:34 GMT

    Well don't be surprise if Pakistan surprise england with attacking cricket, they have played defensive nothing wring with that as loon as result are there, you play according to your ability and team. Not just follow blindly others formula as it may not work for you, aus played attacking when they had good team but look at them for last 2 years they were getting out close to 100 because they were following the same plan even though current player were not the same ability. I am excited as i know Pakistan are gurentee to play hard in this series, just like last series would like to see Red neck trout getting clean bowled few times ...

  • aftab on January 17, 2012, 0:10 GMT

    Really, the story is not about being slow and steady, it's about sleeping on the way. And England is not THAT hare. Pakistan is not that tortoise either. Not to undermine your analogy, this is a race of an English team who sort of looked down upon Pakistan due to the fault a few, however, who has risen to the top most deservingly and convincingly. Versus, a Pakistan team who is out there to reclaim their place in the wrold of cricket. England are not oblivious to the Pakistani advantage and have settled in their shoes well. Pakistan should focus on not letting their heads fall just because a good burst from Broad or Anderson - and remember how Kallis played against Asif when all seemed dark in South Africa a few years ago. Tuk, tuk, until you can slog a tired bowler.

  • paa ji on January 16, 2012, 23:42 GMT

    its a leopard sleeping in tortoise format these days.

  • paa ji on January 16, 2012, 23:40 GMT

    remember this tortoise can b a leopard too.

  • shahzad on January 16, 2012, 23:36 GMT

    i agree the run rate is not good but thats the only way pakistani batsmen have been putting up 300+ totals on regular basis, providing their wicket taking bowlers a chance to win them a game.I'd def. go for a slower 300+ score than a aggressive 220 to leave for the bowlers. Some may consider it negative but you have to play according to your own strengths and they seem to be doing just that.

  • Amyn Habib on January 16, 2012, 23:12 GMT

    I would like to beg the esteemed commentators and experts of Pakistan cricket, Dr. Kamran Abbasi and Dr. Saad Shafqat to please give Pakistan cricket a break! It has been a long time since Pakistan has a decent team under a strong and disciplined leader. It is astonishing to see the mean-spirited and constant whining, the backhanded compliments and the insulting language in their writings. The Pakistan team is beginning to show signs of being a professional outfit that knows how to win. I am one of many fans who have a lot of respect for Misbah’s style and fully support him.

  • A Khan on January 16, 2012, 22:31 GMT

    a 0-0 result still mean #1 was not able to beat #5, so who is the winner.

  • Ejaz Siddiqui on January 16, 2012, 21:36 GMT

    Position of a coach and captain is like of a chess player. They make strategy where to field who.

    E.g. If they need a defensive player then they can field Asad Shafiq (this is the only opening in batting order) but if they need an aggressive player they should field Umar Akmal.

    The problem is that if they play Asad (although I highly rate him) then the captain looses the aggressive strategy as all the 4 batsmen above him are also defensive as well. In other words if Misbah don't play U.Akmal then he looses an attacking option.

    Remember, U. Akmal is rapidly improving. He is No 10 in ICC OCI Ranking. Although it is not test cricket but shows his improvement.

  • Abdullah Shaikh on January 16, 2012, 21:30 GMT

    Regarding fielding of the Pak boys i think that if you take into account their three matches with India, NZ & SL, the number of dropped catches were more that the entire World Cup for all the teams put together. So fielding and catching is a big letdown for these guys and somehow nobody is taking it seriously. Afridi has been their best fielder over the years but he is not playing in Test Matches. Apart from the Pak boys i can think of only one player who is a legend in the making but deserves to be dropped for his fielding. Darren Bravo. Sometimes he drops such dollies that the team has to loose matches because of him. Whereever you put him in the field he is a liabililty on the field. The runs that he scores do not compensate for his dropped catches. The same was the case with Kamran. The selection of Kamran Cost Pak the World Cup. And when Afridi wanted to drop Kamran Waqar got in the way and Umar Akmal feigned injury so that Afridi had no choice.

  • David on January 16, 2012, 21:29 GMT

    I wish umer akmal becomes the wicket keeper batsman in all formats. It will bring more strength in batting and bowling, as one more bowler can be added.

  • Ghani on January 16, 2012, 21:22 GMT

    First test,first session will be the key, who so ever wins it wins the test and will probably have the upper hand.We should risk playing Umar Akmal , he is in good form and is eager to go, that will surely be a positive addition in the team.Wahab should also be given a match and he surely will be firing to go.

  • Syed J. Ahmed on January 16, 2012, 20:57 GMT

    Misbah has brought Pakistan the stability that went missing after Inzi's retirement. Now Pakistan needs to find a successor and Hafeez seems like the perfect candidate. Give Misbah another 1-2 years and make Hafeez the vice-captain so the transition is smooth.

  • Umair Muzaffar on January 16, 2012, 20:52 GMT

    As much as I like Umar Akmal I would prefer Asad Shafiq as this approach has paid off lately and there is no need to fix anything if it ain't broken. This is not a time for experiment.

  • dmqi on January 16, 2012, 20:49 GMT

    I do not think you need acceleration in a 5 day match, it is not one day game. You need to stay at the wicket. On one hand the writer says tortoise can win and then he talks about acceleration, not understood. The team which will stay longer will win as both team has good bowlers, 300 plus not expected. Asad better than umar in test. Go with asad. or go with both with umar as keeper. Do not want to see 2 Akmals.

  • masi mehro on January 16, 2012, 20:47 GMT

    You have to play to your strengths. As fragile as Pakistani batting is, its a question of "when" and not "if" they would collapse. Bringing in Umar Akmal will be pre-mature as Asad Shafiq has done a decent job to secure his place in the side. With Umar lurking on the sidelines, it should give Asad that extra incentive to do more.

  • Zubair Sheikh on January 16, 2012, 20:45 GMT

    I do support the tactic of bringing in Akmal to replace Asad. Asad has done well in Bangladesh, but so has Akmal during his few appearances at domestic level. Also Akmal has far superior record at domestic level and he seems set to transfer those at international level. Keeping him out of the team for merely scoring at higher strike rate is a negative approach, coz for that reason alone 'D. Warner' shouldn't be in Australian team. Anyway I guess Pakistan will go with Asad for the first test and I hope for a good contest.

  • Mir on January 16, 2012, 20:38 GMT

    I have always believed that Umar Akmal should be in this side. Infact in ODI I think he should be in at 3 in place of MYK. Wahan Riaz is a good option but I think Umar Gul should be shown the door now in Tests for a young fast bowler. David Warner's heroics have proved how important it is to have a player like Umar Akmal in the side. He is immensely talented but my question is what is the coaching staff doing with him ?? why cant they get this in his head ? How about the senior players in the side ?? If he fails its a failure of the coaching staff and senior players too as mentor/coach

  • Karim S on January 16, 2012, 20:31 GMT

    Why is no one mentioning Junaid Khan. I think he's the future of Pakistan bowling in the absence of Amir. And last I checked, he was fit for this series.

  • nuetralumpire on January 16, 2012, 20:12 GMT

    if england dont get their the media involved,coaches,former players,their grandads,their choice of biased umpires and all the decisions going their way pakistan will have a chance.also more reviews per innings needed.

  • Babar on January 16, 2012, 20:07 GMT

    Hi, I am sick of this talk about Misbah's slow run rate in tests. Look at Pakistan record in 2011, it speaks for itself, Pakistan never achieved this in tests. I fully support Misbah to play the same way as he played in year 2011. I can not understand the hypocrisy of those people who say that with twenty20 cricket and batting friendly pitches cricket is suffering but when somebody tries to play on merit and according to his strenghts then the same people complain.

  • Andy78 on January 16, 2012, 20:01 GMT

    This series has the word grind written all over it, England going with seven bats and without the proper bowling to force quick wickets. A tuc-tuc mugging is on the cards, one freak session plus dogged/desperate defence giving Pakistan a gauling 1-0 series win.

  • Abdullah Shaikh on January 16, 2012, 19:51 GMT

    CATCHING & FIELDING should be declared a neccessary qualification to be selected in the National Team. If a player does not satisfy the minimum requirement he should be sent back to the academy for minimum training and clearance certificate from the fielding coach it not, then let them go back the basics. I FEEL A TEAM THAT DOES NOT HOLD ON TO THEIR CATCHES DOES NOT DESERVE TO WIN AND A PLAYER WHO DROPS CATHCES REGULARLY SHOULD BE DROPPED IRRESPECTIVE OF HIS REPUTAIN OR SENIORITY. Also i dont understand why Misbah is reluctant in keeping Taufeeq Umar in the slips when he is the best slip fielder (other than Yonis). When Misbah himself stands at thes slip he drops cathes.

  • Abdullah Shaikh on January 16, 2012, 19:46 GMT

    Let us leave all these comments aside and talk about one important aspect of Pak cricket. CATCHING & Fielding. I have been noticing since a long time now that when the pak players hold on to the catches they always win and it is only when they drop the catches that they loose those matches. Latest example World cup NZ & India match. In both these matches they dropped far too many catches. Frankly speaking after dropping so many cathes no Team deserves to win. FOR A LONG TIME NOW I HAVE BEEN ADVOCATING A GOOD PROFESSIONAL FEILDING COACH FOR PAK team. When the spot fixing news broke out last year and the 3 crooks were caught red handed, i started getting a feeling that these catches or should i say dropped catches could also be a part of their strategy of those crooks as during that period a record number of catches were dropped especially by Kamran. But boldly enough he continued his style even through the World Cup.

  • Kashan Saeed on January 16, 2012, 19:38 GMT

    I think against a very good team like England, Pakistan cannot continue to be defensive. If they want to give winning a chance, they will have to play aggressive, flamboyant and in your face cricket..more like the team of past with some killer instinct.. If they want to play for draws or losing the games than they continue with their defensive approach. No. 1 test teams will kill you if the opposition sits back...Shock and Awe, just like in the past will work for Pakistan..Attack, Attack and Attack..

  • Abdullah Shaikh on January 16, 2012, 19:32 GMT

    Read some of the comments. Frankly speaking does not matte much what we write here. But if we see last years test perfomance of Pak. Umar Akmal was a complete frustration with his ways of throwing away his wicket. like afridi he does not know what to do in test cricket. Finally A.Shafiq was introduced in the test team and did performed splendidly against SA in UAE and since then just carried on. He has done no wrong to deserve the boot. On the other hand U.Akmal has done nothing to win back the place so quickly. These younsters should learn to value the opportunities presented to them. One way is by makeing him work hard and earn his place in the side, otherwise they get pampered. Umar does not have the temparament to play test cricket. He is good in the shorter wersion.

  • Nomi on January 16, 2012, 19:08 GMT

    Completely disagree with suggestion that Umar Akmal should be recalled in place of Asad Shafiq. Asad Shafiq alone is not responsible for the slow run rate as except for Muhammad Hafeez, all other batsmen take a painstaking time to get going. Why the go slow approach by Taufeeq and Azhar is acceptable and why Asad is put under spotlight when he tries to build his innings.

    Just the induction of one aggressive batsman won't change the overall mindset. Being defensive under dangerous conditions may be acceptable but on falt batting tracks, Pakistani batsmen as a unit should display more positive intent.

  • Saiful Ansari, Leesburg VA USA on January 16, 2012, 19:03 GMT

    In this series England are favorites as #1 Test side in the world. Pakistan has a tough road ahead. Misbah has to find a chink in armor of his opponents to fancy any chances of winning the series. A defensive approach may not be a bad idea to start the process. Misbah can attack with his bowlers and defend with his batting side till he feels the batsmen are good enough to accelerate the scoring rate. Naturally, each situation is different. When a batting side is down by 2or3wickets cheaply, most skippers adopt a defensive approach. Though that did little to help team India, who were bull-dozed by Australia in the first 3 test matches. England are clearly a better side. Their pace attack is the best, Swann is #1 spinner & England can bat very deep. Pakistan has good spin bowlers,average seam attack, batting is shaky and dependent on Misbah&Younis.Hafeez&Tawfeeq have to be consistent and provide and good start. For the tortoise to spring a surprise their batsmen have to make good starts.

  • danish ali on January 16, 2012, 18:58 GMT

    Umar akmal should be in the side beside asad shafiq Umar will add freshness to pakistan side and i thind cheema should prefer ahead of wahab raiz..Pakisatna will win the series 1-0

  • Fayez on January 16, 2012, 18:58 GMT

    I've been alarmed by this unnecessary urge to change things when Pakistan seems to be producing results. What people seem to forget is that while our batting might be cautious, our bowling remains aggressive. Records show that our bowlers have been getting most wickets per test match in the past 18 months. This means that our bowlers give enough time for our batsmen to get over the line while remaining cautious. As long as we winning matches as a team, I don't see a need to change the mindset.

  • ShoaibAfridi on January 16, 2012, 18:56 GMT

    Scoring against india at a hare's pace and scoring against Paki bowling attac at that pace is an altogether a different ball game.Only time will tell whose a hare and whose a tortoise -.-

  • ALI on January 16, 2012, 18:50 GMT

    IT will be difficult for pakistan to win as english batsmen are capable of making big hundreds and have ability to stay longer at the crease. if england bat and score more than 500 it will be certainly england who will be winning not pakistan. my money is on pakistan not to win the series. Draw or England

  • Kartikeya Singh on January 16, 2012, 18:45 GMT

    I had said this earlier and will say it again here that this Pakistan team has the potential to be great. Misbah seems exactly the kind of individual that they need as captain and they have the nucleus of a very strong bunch of players. England will be tested at the very least and an "upset" should not come as a huge suprise. There may also be some "unfinished business" that provides the extra bit of motivation that Pakistan need.

    Looking forward to an interesting series. Only wish the series were being played where it ought to so that it could get the crowds it deserves. After watching my team getting massacred by the Australians, test cricket needs all the compelling contests it can get.

  • khurram on January 16, 2012, 18:42 GMT

    I think its better that if pakistan batting 4th then they play 3 seamers & if pakistan bowling 4th they can go 2-2.

  • Abdullah on January 16, 2012, 18:25 GMT

    Ball tampering accusations, pitch dancing pirouettes, captain– umpire direct finger pointing along with loud mouthy exchanges, Oval gate, spot fixing revelations, pre-match throat grabbing, unacceptable chairmanship with baseless claims – it surely will be a minor triumph for the sport in itself to see this series go through without catching the wrong the side of the headlines. Both captains, in Strauss and Misbah are no nonsense, educated, diplomatic, fully serious, thoroughly professional, trouble free and respectable personalities so will definitely do their utmost best to ensure things do not go out of bounds and the cricket can do the talking and nothing else.

  • nick on January 16, 2012, 18:22 GMT

    "Pakistan's bowling attack has more depth". wow, how biased do you have to be to believe that? astonishing claim

  • Shahid on January 16, 2012, 18:10 GMT

    For Pakistan, its combination of the attack which will decide the fate. I strongly believe that a left-hand spinner is going to be more successful than Ajmal or Swan.

  • A Ghaffar on January 16, 2012, 18:04 GMT

    Well all this make sense except for the Umer Akmal option. Simply because he is not above cricket, and his attitude has so far shown the opposite.

  • nadeem on January 16, 2012, 18:01 GMT

    i dont car if we win or lose,wat i dont want is after the series is finished is that all the skeletons start falling out the cupboard,with match fixings and betting and cheating and tampering and all that nonsense!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!but i hope pakistan win!!!!

  • Mandar on January 16, 2012, 17:58 GMT

    Hi As a Indian i want pakistan to win. INDIA Pathetic loser test side as we dont it seriously but champs great in short format as players want money fame in short term.

    Who will bat for hrs boring na----

    Sri lanka india going down and down in test cricket. lets see what pakistan can do. As a indian i feel after long time Misbah is best man to lead matured,well educated, compose guy.

    pakistan win will decide on folllowing factors? 1) Pakistan batting 2) how england play saeed ajmal ? 3) Give england red colored spinning tracks should start dancing from day 1 first ball.when asians go abroad we get green carpet, tit for tat. 4)Pakistan fielding ---- doesnt where is pakistani attitude which was missing for last few years. Saeed ajmal for me Best off spinner in world, can bowl anytime slog,power play---- very different action orthodox, sachin tendulkar also tentative to play him . i wonder in computer era how coaches cant analyse ajmal

  • Ash Abbasi on January 16, 2012, 17:48 GMT

    I am so excited about this series. Pak's progress can now be measured as well as Misbah's captaincy. I am praying that we field and catch well as I believe that will be the difference between the sides. Heat will not be a factor as it will be a mild Engkish summer in Dubai. I do not want Riaz bowling- Cheema and even Khan have shown that they can perform at the highest level. It would painful if these guys are overlooked. Do not change a winning combination- so dont bring akmal. We love to change our winning formaulas eg. mohsin khan not getting the job as coach - hes been amazing these past few series we have had. So much talk cant wait for the first ball to be bowled tomorrow- ill be at work but thank god for cricinfo!

  • Observer on January 16, 2012, 17:45 GMT

    I think it's going to be about England's bowling versus Pakistan's batting - if either team can ace the respective departments, it will come out on top. Also, I beleive Umar Akmal's inclusion is a double edged sword i.e he plays aggressively which is the tonic Pakistan needs in the middle order but he's also a trouble maker which is the last thing Pakistan 'team' needs! I think it's going to be a very interesting series with its share of controversies :)

  • shah ji on January 16, 2012, 17:29 GMT

    This Rabbit is not going to take (or give a break to Tortoise ).

    Will need lot effort and good luck too.

  • Salman N Malik on January 16, 2012, 17:13 GMT

    Tortoise and hare aside; the series promises to be thrilling and exciting just due the sheer recent performances of the sides. No doubt England's batting is supreme and on form is the major factor in their successes against Australia and India recently. Pakistani batsmen will have to up their game a notch or two, but should not be at expense of caution. A little more tightening of the screws is needed on batting. Bowling is key on these liefeless tracks, and in simple words, Tests are always won by bowlers who can bowl the opposition out twice. The key question for England is...can their bowlers bowl out the Pakistani batsmen twice? If the answer is yes (and they do have the personnel to do it)...England should win. On form, England have the edge, Pakistan the determination. I would say Pakistan do start as the underdogs here. Gripping contest...especially in the aftermath of shambolic and pathetic efforts from the Indian batsmen in Australia and in England. What a pain!

  • khan on January 16, 2012, 16:53 GMT

    the tortoise will only win if takes its head out of its shell and try to be positive. One must realise defensive tactics dont work against top class teams. England is no. 1 and misbah needs to be a little aggresive with his captaincy rather than wait for england to make mistakes. i sriously hope it will be a result oriented series; not a dour 0-0 draw!

  • Farhan on January 16, 2012, 16:34 GMT

    No need to bring in Umar Akmal. Stick with whats working. Akmal will bring rifts within the team. Also, there is nothig wrong with a slow run-rate - the longer the England team is fielding in the desert sun, the easier it will be to knock 'em down.

  • ishfaqt34 on January 16, 2012, 16:19 GMT

    Definitely umar akmal should be given chance.....

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • ishfaqt34 on January 16, 2012, 16:19 GMT

    Definitely umar akmal should be given chance.....

  • Farhan on January 16, 2012, 16:34 GMT

    No need to bring in Umar Akmal. Stick with whats working. Akmal will bring rifts within the team. Also, there is nothig wrong with a slow run-rate - the longer the England team is fielding in the desert sun, the easier it will be to knock 'em down.

  • khan on January 16, 2012, 16:53 GMT

    the tortoise will only win if takes its head out of its shell and try to be positive. One must realise defensive tactics dont work against top class teams. England is no. 1 and misbah needs to be a little aggresive with his captaincy rather than wait for england to make mistakes. i sriously hope it will be a result oriented series; not a dour 0-0 draw!

  • Salman N Malik on January 16, 2012, 17:13 GMT

    Tortoise and hare aside; the series promises to be thrilling and exciting just due the sheer recent performances of the sides. No doubt England's batting is supreme and on form is the major factor in their successes against Australia and India recently. Pakistani batsmen will have to up their game a notch or two, but should not be at expense of caution. A little more tightening of the screws is needed on batting. Bowling is key on these liefeless tracks, and in simple words, Tests are always won by bowlers who can bowl the opposition out twice. The key question for England is...can their bowlers bowl out the Pakistani batsmen twice? If the answer is yes (and they do have the personnel to do it)...England should win. On form, England have the edge, Pakistan the determination. I would say Pakistan do start as the underdogs here. Gripping contest...especially in the aftermath of shambolic and pathetic efforts from the Indian batsmen in Australia and in England. What a pain!

  • shah ji on January 16, 2012, 17:29 GMT

    This Rabbit is not going to take (or give a break to Tortoise ).

    Will need lot effort and good luck too.

  • Observer on January 16, 2012, 17:45 GMT

    I think it's going to be about England's bowling versus Pakistan's batting - if either team can ace the respective departments, it will come out on top. Also, I beleive Umar Akmal's inclusion is a double edged sword i.e he plays aggressively which is the tonic Pakistan needs in the middle order but he's also a trouble maker which is the last thing Pakistan 'team' needs! I think it's going to be a very interesting series with its share of controversies :)

  • Ash Abbasi on January 16, 2012, 17:48 GMT

    I am so excited about this series. Pak's progress can now be measured as well as Misbah's captaincy. I am praying that we field and catch well as I believe that will be the difference between the sides. Heat will not be a factor as it will be a mild Engkish summer in Dubai. I do not want Riaz bowling- Cheema and even Khan have shown that they can perform at the highest level. It would painful if these guys are overlooked. Do not change a winning combination- so dont bring akmal. We love to change our winning formaulas eg. mohsin khan not getting the job as coach - hes been amazing these past few series we have had. So much talk cant wait for the first ball to be bowled tomorrow- ill be at work but thank god for cricinfo!

  • Mandar on January 16, 2012, 17:58 GMT

    Hi As a Indian i want pakistan to win. INDIA Pathetic loser test side as we dont it seriously but champs great in short format as players want money fame in short term.

    Who will bat for hrs boring na----

    Sri lanka india going down and down in test cricket. lets see what pakistan can do. As a indian i feel after long time Misbah is best man to lead matured,well educated, compose guy.

    pakistan win will decide on folllowing factors? 1) Pakistan batting 2) how england play saeed ajmal ? 3) Give england red colored spinning tracks should start dancing from day 1 first ball.when asians go abroad we get green carpet, tit for tat. 4)Pakistan fielding ---- doesnt where is pakistani attitude which was missing for last few years. Saeed ajmal for me Best off spinner in world, can bowl anytime slog,power play---- very different action orthodox, sachin tendulkar also tentative to play him . i wonder in computer era how coaches cant analyse ajmal

  • nadeem on January 16, 2012, 18:01 GMT

    i dont car if we win or lose,wat i dont want is after the series is finished is that all the skeletons start falling out the cupboard,with match fixings and betting and cheating and tampering and all that nonsense!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!but i hope pakistan win!!!!

  • A Ghaffar on January 16, 2012, 18:04 GMT

    Well all this make sense except for the Umer Akmal option. Simply because he is not above cricket, and his attitude has so far shown the opposite.