Pakistan v England, 1st Test, Dubai, 1st day January 17, 2012

England spooked by spin and pre-match talk

On a pitch that, initially at least, offered little assistance to bowlers of any type, England's top order folded as meekly as a shy kitten in a room full of alligators
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Like being mugged by a man with a plastic gun, England allowed their fears to cloud their actions on the first day of the Test series against Pakistan. Maybe it was all the pre-Test talk of new deliveries and combating spin, but England appeared paralysed by the very thought of the Pakistan slow bowlers.

Perhaps all that talk - the focus on the unknown and of Saeed Ajmal's 'new' delivery - was the problem. England appeared full of fear and treated every ball as if it may spit and fizz. In truth, most of them went straight. Quite simply, England were spooked.

On a pitch that, initially at least, offered little assistance to bowlers of any type, England's top order folded as meekly as a shy kitten in a room full of alligators. All the brave talk about their new-found confidence against spin bowling was shown to be mere bluster. Whatever their success elsewhere, they have acres of room for improvement on Asian pitches.

Such a conclusion should take nothing away from the excellence of the Pakistan attack. Quite the contrary. While a glance at the scorecard might convince the casual observer that this pitch offered plentiful help to the spinners, it was not so.

Instead, Pakistan's bowlers utilised the timeless virtues of excellent control and subtle variation. Maintaining a wonderfully nagging line, they preyed on England's insecurities as vultures might on dying lambs. In all, Pakistan's spinners claimed nine for 112 runs; not a bad effort for a first-day pitch after the opposition had chosen to bat.

Ajmal, in particular, was masterful. Utilising all his variations, an immaculate line and length and benefitting from the pressure applied by his colleagues, Ajmal claimed the best figures of his first-class career and recorded the fifth-best figures by a Pakistan bowler in Tests against England.

It wasn't just Ajmal, however. Abdur Rehman, darting the ball in at a sharp pace, increased the pressure on the batsmen with a mean opening spell that conceded only five runs in his first eight overs. Later on, he also produced the ball of the day, a beauty that pitched middle-and-leg and hit the top of off stump, to curtail an England fight back.

But it was Mohammad Hafeez who inflicted the first blow. Called into the attack in just the sixth over - an inspired piece of captaincy that exploited Hafeez's excellence against left-handers and the openers' unease against slower bowlers at the start of their innings - the offspinner took just three balls to strike. Cook, immediately out of his comfort zone, was drawn into a cut shot off a ball that was neither short enough or wide enough for the shot.

Ajmal showed up familiar frailties that suggest, for all the talk of recent times, England still have mountains to climb in Asia

Perhaps Jonathan Trott, the only England batsman not to fall to spin bowling, was unfortunate to be caught down the leg side, but just about every one of his colleagues will reflect that they had more than a hand in their own downfall. Andrew Strauss, attempting to break the shackles, was bowled as he attempted a desperate pull and, by the time Kevin Pietersen's torturous innings was ended when he missed his lunge at a straight one and Ian Bell's tentative prod was edged to the keeper, England had faced 58 balls of spin bowling and lost four wickets for four runs. Later Eoin Morgan, again trying to be positive when the situation called for calm and patience, missed an unnecessarily risky sweep to a straight ball that could have been defended with comfort.

If England were wretched, however, Pakistan were full of guile. Sometimes, Ajmal's variations were tiny - a scrambled seam here, a more slingy action there, he bowled both over and round the wicket and changed his pace subtly - but he consistently bowled straight and posed questions of the batsmen. Questions to which they had no answers. There was scarcely a poor ball all day and England, exhibiting remarkably brittle confidence for the No. 1 ranked team in Test cricket, buckled under the pressure.

Things could have been even worse from an England perspective. At 94 for 7, they were facing the prospect of a new record low score against Pakistan and that it remains 130 - once at Lahore in 1987 and once at The Oval in 1954 - was largely due to the resilience of Matt Prior and Graeme Swann.

While Swann counter-attacked intelligently, driving powerfully whenever the ball was in his area, Prior defended sensibly and showed the virtue of playing straight. This was the third occasion in his Test career in which he had scored more runs than the top six combined. No England batsman has done that more. He helped England's last three wickets add 98 runs and more than double the contribution of the top order.

Perhaps, had Adnan Akmal clung on to a thin edge offered by Swann when the batsman had just 8, the day could have been even better for Pakistan. But they will have few complaints. They played the more intelligent cricket and looked a well organised, united unit than any Pakistan team has looked for a long time.

For England this day was a wake-up call. They are not out of this series or this match. But Ajmal showed up familiar frailties that suggest, for all the talk of recent times, England still have mountains to climb in Asia.

The manner in which Pakistan began their reply - Swann's second delivery was thumped back over his head for four by Hafeez - underlined the fact that they have no such concerns.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on January 19, 2012, 13:29 GMT

    I agree Ind was very bad in Eng series and Eng played better all round cricket thn Ind.. Hope u rem this comment frm me @ the end of Ind-Eng test series.. "Eng is definitely a good side, bt not as gud as they r made to seem now.." I rem ur reply stating my comment as "unbiased Indian comment" - sarcastically.. I repeat.. Eng is definitely a good Test side.. bt, not as good as they seemed to b in last year.. And I am proved right now(failed inside 3 days-almost innings defeat) If this series against Pak(though its not in SC) proves me wrong(they r expected to win this series, don't they..?? after all they r world beaters and playing a team ranked well below in a MUTUAL venue), I will b the first one to admit that Eng is a better side in alien conditions..

  • on January 19, 2012, 13:25 GMT

    @JG2704.. I think u made a similar(as Gupta) mark abt me "to compliment opponents" in a news-column abt Clarke putting team first.. Indeed, I did.. U can check the match reports of Ind-Aus r the same comment which u were pointing to.. B4 I could reply, the comments sections was closed then.. So, I take this opportunity to reply u.. Clarke innings was "the best one" and I surely complimented his effort in my comment.. All i mentioned was his statement "putting team first" was uncalled for.. That takes no credit away frm Clarke's marvelous innings.. Coming back to Eng side, I will surely make complimentary comments abt English side.. provided they play consistently well in alien conditions.. Except BD, their all other recent series wins r in Eng's familiar conditions.. Plz dont start with Ashes.. Aus is nothing bt Eng's second home.. Jus like SL to IND.. (TBC)

  • MALIK619 on January 18, 2012, 15:35 GMT

    Ajmal is the best spinner right now and if English media has any problem with his bowling action than he also played the series against England in 2010............where was Mr.media men............His action is perfect and he should only concentrate on his deliveries and bowling varieties............

  • JG2704 on January 18, 2012, 9:29 GMT

    @Gupta.Ankur on (January 18 2012, 03:51 AM GMT) - Most of us say that India are presently poor against seam/swing etc and the series in England and the current series with Australia prove that. England might not adapt and come unstuck big time in this series. They have losing records in the SC but have won test series in Pak and SL since 2000 and in that time have not lost a test series by more than a single test to India - probably similar to India's past record in Australia which I have never judged India by as India have in the past played well against swing/seam in England. Still maybe one day you will come on these boards and say something complimentary about England.

  • MohammedWasi on January 18, 2012, 9:26 GMT

    Beating teams in home conditions has always been the advantage for the home teams..SA, AUS and upto certain extent India(in the last decade before 2011) hav been gud travellin sides. Others have tried but they (NZ,PAK,SL,ENG & WI) dont hav much to cheer about...!!

  • StoneRose on January 18, 2012, 9:25 GMT

    Sayak: England and India may be poor travellers, but SA are poor at home: no series win for 4 years at home until the recent victory. I love also how people are championing Aus just because they beat a poor India side: do people not remember they drew a series with a poor NZ side and got hammered in the Ashes?

  • satheeshkumar.m on January 18, 2012, 9:23 GMT

    hahahaha..I am sure the England team will not even last one away series..they have played poor test cricket for the last 4 decades, never won a world cup, hardly won any away series, haven't won in India for so many decades..this No.1 rank is just a fluke and eventually it will be taken over by the two champion teams - SA or Aus..

  • MohammedWasi on January 18, 2012, 9:19 GMT

    These days all the teams seem to be good at home and not doing great when travelling. Last time when pak travelled to Eng, they lost it badly and unfortunately ended up in ridiculous match fixing saga. Similar story was with India. Teams travellin to india lose badly and india returns them the favour when they tour.

    Pak is in gud form and i hope they thrash england in this series to make up india's loss to Eng ;) after all we are neighbours..!!

  • on January 18, 2012, 9:08 GMT

    pAKISTAN WIL GON A WIN THIS sERIES AS THE ENGLISH BATSMAN HAS THE DEMON IN THEIR MIND WHILE FACINFG PAKISTANI SPINN

  • on January 18, 2012, 8:54 GMT

    No team can be as consistent as Australia of yesteryears. Australia will lose to this Indian team by miles if they play in India. England will realize how tough it is against England. So # 1 rank is just for records, we are not going to see Australia of 2000-2004 where Hydos and Langer blasted, Gilli thrashed, Punter, Waugh brothers, Martyns made fun of opposition. McGrath and Warne came and humiliated opponents. That is not gonna happen in next 4-5 years. South Africa are not consistent, Aus lost to NZ just recently. England were thrashed by India 5-0 recently in ODIs.

  • on January 19, 2012, 13:29 GMT

    I agree Ind was very bad in Eng series and Eng played better all round cricket thn Ind.. Hope u rem this comment frm me @ the end of Ind-Eng test series.. "Eng is definitely a good side, bt not as gud as they r made to seem now.." I rem ur reply stating my comment as "unbiased Indian comment" - sarcastically.. I repeat.. Eng is definitely a good Test side.. bt, not as good as they seemed to b in last year.. And I am proved right now(failed inside 3 days-almost innings defeat) If this series against Pak(though its not in SC) proves me wrong(they r expected to win this series, don't they..?? after all they r world beaters and playing a team ranked well below in a MUTUAL venue), I will b the first one to admit that Eng is a better side in alien conditions..

  • on January 19, 2012, 13:25 GMT

    @JG2704.. I think u made a similar(as Gupta) mark abt me "to compliment opponents" in a news-column abt Clarke putting team first.. Indeed, I did.. U can check the match reports of Ind-Aus r the same comment which u were pointing to.. B4 I could reply, the comments sections was closed then.. So, I take this opportunity to reply u.. Clarke innings was "the best one" and I surely complimented his effort in my comment.. All i mentioned was his statement "putting team first" was uncalled for.. That takes no credit away frm Clarke's marvelous innings.. Coming back to Eng side, I will surely make complimentary comments abt English side.. provided they play consistently well in alien conditions.. Except BD, their all other recent series wins r in Eng's familiar conditions.. Plz dont start with Ashes.. Aus is nothing bt Eng's second home.. Jus like SL to IND.. (TBC)

  • MALIK619 on January 18, 2012, 15:35 GMT

    Ajmal is the best spinner right now and if English media has any problem with his bowling action than he also played the series against England in 2010............where was Mr.media men............His action is perfect and he should only concentrate on his deliveries and bowling varieties............

  • JG2704 on January 18, 2012, 9:29 GMT

    @Gupta.Ankur on (January 18 2012, 03:51 AM GMT) - Most of us say that India are presently poor against seam/swing etc and the series in England and the current series with Australia prove that. England might not adapt and come unstuck big time in this series. They have losing records in the SC but have won test series in Pak and SL since 2000 and in that time have not lost a test series by more than a single test to India - probably similar to India's past record in Australia which I have never judged India by as India have in the past played well against swing/seam in England. Still maybe one day you will come on these boards and say something complimentary about England.

  • MohammedWasi on January 18, 2012, 9:26 GMT

    Beating teams in home conditions has always been the advantage for the home teams..SA, AUS and upto certain extent India(in the last decade before 2011) hav been gud travellin sides. Others have tried but they (NZ,PAK,SL,ENG & WI) dont hav much to cheer about...!!

  • StoneRose on January 18, 2012, 9:25 GMT

    Sayak: England and India may be poor travellers, but SA are poor at home: no series win for 4 years at home until the recent victory. I love also how people are championing Aus just because they beat a poor India side: do people not remember they drew a series with a poor NZ side and got hammered in the Ashes?

  • satheeshkumar.m on January 18, 2012, 9:23 GMT

    hahahaha..I am sure the England team will not even last one away series..they have played poor test cricket for the last 4 decades, never won a world cup, hardly won any away series, haven't won in India for so many decades..this No.1 rank is just a fluke and eventually it will be taken over by the two champion teams - SA or Aus..

  • MohammedWasi on January 18, 2012, 9:19 GMT

    These days all the teams seem to be good at home and not doing great when travelling. Last time when pak travelled to Eng, they lost it badly and unfortunately ended up in ridiculous match fixing saga. Similar story was with India. Teams travellin to india lose badly and india returns them the favour when they tour.

    Pak is in gud form and i hope they thrash england in this series to make up india's loss to Eng ;) after all we are neighbours..!!

  • on January 18, 2012, 9:08 GMT

    pAKISTAN WIL GON A WIN THIS sERIES AS THE ENGLISH BATSMAN HAS THE DEMON IN THEIR MIND WHILE FACINFG PAKISTANI SPINN

  • on January 18, 2012, 8:54 GMT

    No team can be as consistent as Australia of yesteryears. Australia will lose to this Indian team by miles if they play in India. England will realize how tough it is against England. So # 1 rank is just for records, we are not going to see Australia of 2000-2004 where Hydos and Langer blasted, Gilli thrashed, Punter, Waugh brothers, Martyns made fun of opposition. McGrath and Warne came and humiliated opponents. That is not gonna happen in next 4-5 years. South Africa are not consistent, Aus lost to NZ just recently. England were thrashed by India 5-0 recently in ODIs.

  • on January 18, 2012, 7:53 GMT

    Exactly! Very well analysed.

  • Meety on January 18, 2012, 7:19 GMT

    Early days but the wheel nut is creaking for England........

  • sachin_vvsfan on January 18, 2012, 7:07 GMT

    I would like to hear what Mr wombats is going to say now (who has always said that ENG need not beat Asian teams at their home to prove that they are num 1). Wait Pak isn't even playing at home. Remember fans will always haunt the num 1 team. It happened to Aus, Ind and now its ENG turn.

  • sportofpain on January 18, 2012, 7:01 GMT

    England deserve to be ranked No 1 but will be called a great team only if they can win in different conditions esp in Asia

  • sportofpain on January 18, 2012, 7:00 GMT

    England deserve to be ranked No 1 but will be called a great team only if they can win in different conditions esp in Asia

  • sweetspot on January 18, 2012, 6:38 GMT

    Why? No bad stomach and dust allergy this time?

  • on January 18, 2012, 5:41 GMT

    Well written article that was, good sir.

  • on January 18, 2012, 5:37 GMT

    For all the hoopla , both England and India are poor travelers, at least in test Cricket and neither deserve to be in top two in Test Cricket. In my personal opinion SA is the best test team in unfamiliar conditions now a days. After the demolition of India, AUS is looking as the only side which may give them a run for their money. However both England and India will vie for the 3rd/4th slot considering their strong show at home. Unfortunately for England, in spite of their priority over the so called 'Real Cricket' , they are as pathetic in unfamiliar conditions as India.

  • rahulcricket007 on January 18, 2012, 5:20 GMT

    go pakistan go .. & thrash this english team & give some proud to subcontitnent . as our indian team & neighbours sl team has already let subcontinent down with their performance .

  • BMayuresh on January 18, 2012, 5:02 GMT

    Wow so just an assumption that the new delivery paralyzes the new No.1? Now where is the Bramy Army that criticized the Indian Team. India were much better and were able to hold the crown for over an year, even though they were continuously troubled by injuries. Truth is this is a funny game and things can turn around any moment. The English batsmen had a bad day and they will come back in the next innings or match. Nothing to take away from Pak bowlers, they too did a terrific job to restrict the Poms.

  • Sutiro on January 18, 2012, 4:04 GMT

    Ah! The honeymoon is over already. England has returned to Earth where it belongs, with a thud. The flogging in India (one dayers) wasn't an aberration. Great teams need to be great in all conditions. There have arguably been only two truly great teams, WI (80s/90s) and Australia (90s/00s). Bradman's Invincibles were only such in England.

  • Gupta.Ankur on January 18, 2012, 3:51 GMT

    English ex-cricketers and fans have a go at asian teams for being poor against swing despite asian teams doing better in england than they ever did in asia...

    I hope this puts things in prespective...

  • on January 18, 2012, 3:49 GMT

    Curse of being #1. Well done ajmal with the zooter of a teesra

  • satish619chandar on January 18, 2012, 3:41 GMT

    As many English fans suggested for Indian fans, pre match talks have no value when u dont show it on field..

  • deepak_sholapurkar on January 18, 2012, 3:21 GMT

    Slowly England is becoming new India in cricket. dominating only at home or seamer friendly tracks.

  • zenboomerang on January 18, 2012, 2:40 GMT

    @George Dobell... The premise for your article & the first few paragraphs are all rebuted by your later remarks... What a dumb way to write... England batted badly & Pakistan bowled good line & length - end of story... England hasn't played against a decent bowling attack since 2009/2010 in SA where they just managed a drawn series... The last series against Aust & India were against very weak bowling units with both series being in 'English' conditions - even Dhoni bowled in England... lol... England will find this current series tough if the bowling stays the same - as will England find against the Saffa's & Aussies in coming series...

  • on January 18, 2012, 2:33 GMT

    Great show England ..they told India can't play bouncy track now see how they play turning wickets

  • on January 18, 2012, 2:28 GMT

    Good to see Pakistan's cricket back at its best. Wonderful bowling from Ajmal and the spinners. I thought that Mishbah could have bowled Rehman and Ajmal in tandem to break the Morgan/Prior partnership instead of going for Cheema. But, good work Pakistan.

  • on January 18, 2012, 2:26 GMT

    Thank you for the great report.

  • MBA394 on January 18, 2012, 2:05 GMT

    THIS IS A RIDICULOUS PITCH........the ball was turning and twisting and creeping between da legs.......Like in Galle ,The Pitch should be banned and the curator jailed !!!!The only pitches allowed anywhere in da world should be swninging and bouncing as these pitches are very dangerous to da batsmen !

  • on January 18, 2012, 2:03 GMT

    Welcome to the subcontinent England. England are a very good team at home and perhaps in Australia too. But the truly great teams have won in the subcontinent and I wonder if England has the capability to do that. Based on this one innings, though that seems unfair, they do not have the ability to win here. They have other places to go to like Sri Lanka and India soon and there are other spinners, perhaps not so talented, but other wickets which will be far worse. Batsmen in the subcontinent too are better players of spin and Anderson will not be the force he was at home. These are interesting times for England but winning teams have a way of coping. They perhaps need to sweep less and play straighter. Prior batted well as did Swann, but if England wins this series it can only be because Pakistan makes a mess of it. I wonder if they will though they have done it in the past. sridhar

  • shaz101 on January 18, 2012, 0:46 GMT

    well we have to see to the end of day 2 to evaluate how far pakistan have come. Because if they are 390 or 400 by close of day 2 and are only 3 or 4 wickets down than this will be a true reflection of their mental strenght..if they get bowled out for anything less than 450 than I think they are still same old Pakistan side that cannot put a side away after showing great effort in bowling.

  • Deepfreezed on January 18, 2012, 0:41 GMT

    law green bullies exposed again. Let see how the world greatest spin bowler 'Swann' is going to perform. No doubt he will fall flat on his face and blame something else for the failure.

  • happycric on January 18, 2012, 0:29 GMT

    Currently, each cricket team is just strong playing home . England just proved it. They won comfortably against India in England and they were thrashed in ODI in India. Now they will be thrashed in Test against pakistan.

  • mix-grill-united on January 18, 2012, 0:16 GMT

    To the barmy army.........PAKISTAN ZINDABAD!!!!!

  • on January 18, 2012, 0:07 GMT

    Well done Pakistan. Yes, ENG are top of the tree at the moment, and deservingly so - but like SA and India who briefly took the mace from AUS after their greats retired, the challenge is to stay there. And that, if I may, wouldn't suffice by winning on true pitches of AUS or swinging ones of ENG. The dustbowls of subcontinent, the slow-low turners of SL or West Indies, the spiteful uneven bounce of Durban, they'll need to triumph everywhere. They certainly have the ingredients, however - WI of 70s and 80s, and AUS of 90s and 2000s, weren't called "World Champions" without reason. They never needed the ICC ranking system to prove it!

  • Dadu786 on January 17, 2012, 23:55 GMT

    Beautiful article by George, main difference was pakistan's spin attack, Ajmal was hero of the day but don't forget the pressure built by his team mates and intelligent leadership of pakistani skipper, call of KP's lbw was superb mind work, congrats green, go for win and finish in four days.

  • iBilal on January 17, 2012, 23:19 GMT

    the teesra might not have worked but the mind-games, hype and hullabaloo before the match has certainly got England batsmen

  • on January 17, 2012, 22:20 GMT

    Saeed Ajmal's one spell brought the so called No.1 team to earth which was flying into heavens.

  • on January 17, 2012, 22:05 GMT

    Very well written george, thanks for a quality piece.

  • jackiethepen on January 17, 2012, 21:40 GMT

    As Ajmal's bowling relies on small subtle variations the pitch is not required to turn a great deal for spin. His bowling was superb. England did look tense and underprepared (that wasn't a surprise after just two practice matches that were played to win rather than for preparation). Bell's bat wasn't a tentative prod but a forward defensive stroke that took the faintest of edges off a brilliant doosra. TV replays are very useful to sports reporters. I wonder why they don't use them. In the Guardian commentary it was claimed that the ball had passed the bat and the wicketkeeper took the bails off. I sometimes think critics just write in cliches - Bell gets a nick - must be tentative prod. I watched Ajmal destroy South Africa in the Emirates in ODIs. He is a really good bowler. And we have to learn how to play him. Never mind the dog thrower - we need something much more subtle. Was Merlin used in England? I'm not convinced that Gooch is the best batting coach.

  • Plz_Dont_Get_Whitewashed on January 17, 2012, 21:33 GMT

    Hahahahahahaha..... Poms getting PUMMELED on Asian pitches !!!!! Hahahahahahahaha......... No.1 Test Team in the World?????? .... What a Joke!! Hahahahahahaha :D

  • r1m2 on January 17, 2012, 21:27 GMT

    I think it's fair to say that the "teesra" really existed in the 5th dimension (imaginary). And my hypotheses is that the English were actually looking for it...! They didn't want to be fooled by this new delivery, and instead wanted to hit it out of the park so that they could claim the moral victory against it. Since they were concentrating too hard on finding the "teesra" they lost their wickets to the "pehla" and the "doosra".

  • cricket_pak419 on January 17, 2012, 21:13 GMT

    England are scared of Pakistan. Im so happy that this time the opposition is scared of Pakistan

  • JG2704 on January 17, 2012, 21:12 GMT

    Could just be a combination of England's top order being rubbish and Ajmal's brilliance with the ball. Surely it won't have been the 1st time England have experienced attempted mind games and the batsmen are all pretty experienced. Hopefully it was just a bad day at the office and our bowlers can retrieve the situation somewhat.

  • on January 17, 2012, 21:04 GMT

    Where is Mr. Vaughan? Your so called No. 1 team cant play spin yet. These are alien conditions just as yours are for players from the subcontinent. We are flat track bullies and yet your team could not put up a decent score on a flat track.

  • on January 17, 2012, 20:48 GMT

    Great game Saeed Ajmal and the rest!.. need to keep it up! it's just the first day..

  • Lord.emsworth on January 17, 2012, 20:16 GMT

    I dont know if it was so much fear that clouded the actions of the English batsmen. Sri Lanka found Ajmal ( and Hafeez) a handful too when they lost that series recently. Perhpas more credit to the Pakistan team who bowled fabulously?

  • phoenixsteve on January 17, 2012, 20:14 GMT

    Great bowling display from Pakistan and a quite shameful batting display by England. On this show they don't look like world beaters - but it's only day 1 and they have to believe that they can turn it around? Persoanally I think that England should have gone in with 2 spinners and shown shown enterprise and adaptability. There seems to be no evidence of English batsmen having a new found confidence against spin though. Hopefully England will knock over Pakistan for under 250 and that'll throw the game wide open again with Pakistan still favourites if England continue to bat like frightened rabbits! It's al good for test cricket but what a shame that the ground seems almost empty? I'm staying cautiously hopeful, but the world's number one test team has it all to do! Great stuff from Pakistan..... COME ON ENGLAND!!!

  • hhillbumper on January 17, 2012, 20:02 GMT

    I think the only thing England got spooked by was that they tried to sweep to soon and should have batted normally.Lets see how it goes in the second innings shall we.

  • Cpt.Meanster on January 17, 2012, 19:39 GMT

    From what I have seen so far.. England DON'T look like a no.1 test team. Still it's too early to say anything. Pakistan have scored only 42 runs so far. They still trail by plenty. A good bowling session first up tomorrow could see England back up at the top in this game. I would wait until the end of the first test to give my complete assessment about England. But so far.. they look like an average team in my opinion. I am sure many of the English players will be thinking "home sweet home".

  • Nutcutlet on January 17, 2012, 19:28 GMT

    As someone reminded me recently, Gooch resorted to the sweep when playing spinners. Well, that's fine and dandy if the batsman knows which way the ball is going to turn and has picked up the pace of the delivery off the pitch! Yes, I know the received wisdom is that you sweep length, but Eoin Morgan and Stuart Broad got out to this shot when the ball just wasn't quite there, so they didn't! Morgan in particular is going to be important in this series because he plays the ball late with wrists breaking - and indeed I thought he looked the part until the he decided that it was time for that signature shot (whose signature, I wonder?). All England needs to do now is to look at the way Prior played - straight and late - to counter Ajmal by reducing the 'spookiness' of his deliveries. England is not a 'kitten team' really! This is a very salutory wake-up call - not a case of something that is past remedy, IMO. Applied intelligence needed!

  • on January 17, 2012, 18:59 GMT

    its only one session but advantage Pak, now the challenge is to keep up the pressure and score atleast 400 ..

  • on January 17, 2012, 18:49 GMT

    i am indian and i know pakistan will win this series but i want england to loose 3-0 here..they are not the kind of team they want outside world to see them to be.they are just an average cricket team with a good pace attack and batsman who can play well on their home or homelike conditions not a team that can be ranked anyway near the past aussie or westindies team

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on January 17, 2012, 18:36 GMT

    OMG! People are reading so much into just 1 day and just one collapse. Cut the English batsmen some slack guys. Yes they are not known to play spin as well as they should or would want to. But we can't wait until they come out and bat for the second time. Can we?

  • shahbazhussain on January 17, 2012, 18:35 GMT

    And really there should not be any concern other than winning the test for Pakistan and downgrade England to #2 spot. That is the ultimate goal for the Team Pakistan. Go and get it Green shirts!

  • SyedOmerAliQadri on January 17, 2012, 18:21 GMT

    I have great respect for Dobell but here i disagree a little with you, sir. Its wrong to underestimate the number1 ranked team. The English team has fighters in players like Prior, broad, Swann. I am sure they will bounce back and give pakistan a tough time for the next 4 days. Ajmal is sheer genius...no doubt about that. I am just worried about Gul though. He didn't seem the bowler that he is. I'd have thought he would do his homework and knowing how many times the english openers have been dismissed by the fast bowlers in their last 16 games (23 innings) - cook was out 22 times to a fast bowler and strauss 20 times. For more such analysis, please check out www.cricketingbrains.blogspot.com My friend & I have posted our views on how to get the englishmen out by performing some statistical analysis. I'd like you guys to take a look and enjoy it! if you don't please send us a feedback ... constructive criticism is most welcome ! All the best of pak&eng.hope to see a good game

  • Alpuri on January 17, 2012, 18:09 GMT

    Well done Pakistan. They simply outplayed England. They are far better disciplined and motivated team. They have no doubt the best bowling unit in the world at present.

  • on January 17, 2012, 18:06 GMT

    I don't know how exactly the rankings work, but they should incorporate extra points for away series...so that the difference among the top six sides can be clearer...england is by no means the sole owner of number one spot...they are as bad as india in foreign conditions!

  • Shrekk on January 17, 2012, 18:05 GMT

    Although I like the life that Dobell brings to cricinfo's reports, the hyperbolic metaphors are perhaps one too many..

  • OhhhMattyMatty on January 17, 2012, 18:02 GMT

    Why would England be scared of a guy who won't be allowed to bowl in a few months? Bob Willis for ICC President!

  • on January 17, 2012, 17:43 GMT

    "England spooked by spin and pre-match talk", just the title spooked me out, what a horrible cop out for an abysmal performance!

  • khurramsch on January 17, 2012, 17:28 GMT

    fact is that most of ajmal's wickets today were on simple balls not even dosra or tesra. & after todays act i think he dont need that type of tesra which we seen today that didnt go any where.that was just a straight ball doing nothing like talked. his normal ones were more dangerous

  • on January 17, 2012, 17:28 GMT

    status of being No 1 test side is actually working against English team.

  • TheBengalTiger on January 17, 2012, 17:23 GMT

    Number one team in the world is clueless outside of familiar conditions. India performed brilliantly away from home for over 2 years in places like South Africa. The second England are forced to leave familiar conditions, they crumble. Should bear this in mind before having a go at India

  • Sayedgee on January 17, 2012, 17:16 GMT

    who you calling "plastic gun" boy? Its a Bazooka!

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  • Sayedgee on January 17, 2012, 17:16 GMT

    who you calling "plastic gun" boy? Its a Bazooka!

  • TheBengalTiger on January 17, 2012, 17:23 GMT

    Number one team in the world is clueless outside of familiar conditions. India performed brilliantly away from home for over 2 years in places like South Africa. The second England are forced to leave familiar conditions, they crumble. Should bear this in mind before having a go at India

  • on January 17, 2012, 17:28 GMT

    status of being No 1 test side is actually working against English team.

  • khurramsch on January 17, 2012, 17:28 GMT

    fact is that most of ajmal's wickets today were on simple balls not even dosra or tesra. & after todays act i think he dont need that type of tesra which we seen today that didnt go any where.that was just a straight ball doing nothing like talked. his normal ones were more dangerous

  • on January 17, 2012, 17:43 GMT

    "England spooked by spin and pre-match talk", just the title spooked me out, what a horrible cop out for an abysmal performance!

  • OhhhMattyMatty on January 17, 2012, 18:02 GMT

    Why would England be scared of a guy who won't be allowed to bowl in a few months? Bob Willis for ICC President!

  • Shrekk on January 17, 2012, 18:05 GMT

    Although I like the life that Dobell brings to cricinfo's reports, the hyperbolic metaphors are perhaps one too many..

  • on January 17, 2012, 18:06 GMT

    I don't know how exactly the rankings work, but they should incorporate extra points for away series...so that the difference among the top six sides can be clearer...england is by no means the sole owner of number one spot...they are as bad as india in foreign conditions!

  • Alpuri on January 17, 2012, 18:09 GMT

    Well done Pakistan. They simply outplayed England. They are far better disciplined and motivated team. They have no doubt the best bowling unit in the world at present.

  • SyedOmerAliQadri on January 17, 2012, 18:21 GMT

    I have great respect for Dobell but here i disagree a little with you, sir. Its wrong to underestimate the number1 ranked team. The English team has fighters in players like Prior, broad, Swann. I am sure they will bounce back and give pakistan a tough time for the next 4 days. Ajmal is sheer genius...no doubt about that. I am just worried about Gul though. He didn't seem the bowler that he is. I'd have thought he would do his homework and knowing how many times the english openers have been dismissed by the fast bowlers in their last 16 games (23 innings) - cook was out 22 times to a fast bowler and strauss 20 times. For more such analysis, please check out www.cricketingbrains.blogspot.com My friend & I have posted our views on how to get the englishmen out by performing some statistical analysis. I'd like you guys to take a look and enjoy it! if you don't please send us a feedback ... constructive criticism is most welcome ! All the best of pak&eng.hope to see a good game