Pakistan v England 2011-12

Foundations remain solid for England

George Dobell in Dubai

January 23, 2012

Comments: 69 | Text size: A | A

Alastair Cook plays a stylish pull, Pakistan v England, 1st Test, Dubai, 3rd day, January 19, 2012
Alastair Cook will open the batting with Andrew Strauss for the 100th time in the second Test © Getty Images
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Just as the remarkable buildings that rise out of the desert in the UAE rely on solid foundations, so England have had cause to be thankful for the opening partnership between Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook in recent years.

Like the foundations of those buildings, the Strauss/Cook partnership might not be the most attractive feature in the edifice of Team England. But take away those foundations and the whole structure crumbles.

The pair will - all being well - open the batting together for the 100th time in Tests when Pakistan and England renew rivalries in Abu Dhabi from Wednesday. No previous England opening pair has done that. Indeed, the Marcus Tresocthick and Michael Vaughan pairing is the next most-common for England; they opened together 54 times in Tests. Only Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes - 148 Test innings as opening partners - Marvan Atapattu and Sanath Jayasuriya - 118 - and Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer - 113 - have opened together more in Test cricket than Strauss and Cook.

The Strauss/Cook partnership has served England well. Since they first came together - in Nagpur in March 2006 - they have played key roles in winning the Ashes home and away and helping England to the top of the Test rankings. They have put on 4,163 runs together as an opening pair at an average of 42.91 with 11 hundreds and 15 half-century stands.

Including the 14 times they have batted together in other positions, they have scored 4,651 Test runs together. Only five Test partnerships can better that, with Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid - 6,900 Test runs - leading the way.

Strauss and Cook couldn't claim to be England's best opening pair. Between 1924 and 1930 Herbert Sutcliffe and Jack Hobbs opened together on 38 occasions in Test cricket and amassed 3,249 runs at the remarkable average of 87.81. It is also worth noting that Strauss and Marcus Trescothick made 2,670 runs together as openers at the impressive average of 52.35. A reminder, perhaps, of what might have been had Trescothick not been affected by illness.

There have been some worrying signs of late, too. Nine of Strauss and Cook's last 11 opening stands have failed to reach 25 - seven of them have failed to pass ten - while, on the evidence of watching them in the nets on Monday, neither looked in the best of form. Strauss, in particular, looked quite wretched.

But they've experienced lean patches before. England have stuck with them and that loyalty has been rewarded. It would be foolish to write off the Strauss and Cook combination just yet.

"We've had some great moments," Cook said after England had finished training on Monday. "Probably the highlight for me would be Australia at Lord's in 2009 when, after not batting so well in Cardiff, we came back and set a really good platform. Then there was Brisbane in 2010 as well. They're the two that stand out for me.

 
 
"No matter how good a side you are, you will always lose some games of cricket against the very good sides we're playing. But you don't become bad players or a bad team overnight." Alastair Cook
 

"It's always nice to have stability at the top of the order. I hope we inspire some confidence in the rest of the team when we walk out together. We hope, for the 100th time, we can do something special."

It is the captain's form that is causing most concern at present. While his position is not under any serious threat, his lack of runs at the top of the order - one century in 26 Tests and none since November 2010 - is an uncomfortable reality that England are hoping will be remedied soon.

Cook, naturally, was keen to defend Strauss. "He's got a great record proven over a number of years," Cook said. "To have the experience at the top of the order has held us in good stead. We're very similar in character and we do enjoy batting together.

"It's our job at the top of the order to lay that platform. We didn't do that in Dubai, and that's one of the reasons why we didn't get a good total. It's not the be-all and end-all but it's certainly a major responsibility and always has been. Whenever you open the batting, you have to lay as good a platform as you can. We have done it in the past but we didn't last week and it cost us."

Cook admitted that England's confidence had taken a blow as a consequence of the defeat in Dubai. "When you lose - and lose so heavily - it does dent confidence," he said. "But if you look at history, when we have produced a poor performance we've managed to bounce back well. We hope we can this time.

"We said when we turned number one and everyone said what a good team we are, that there were going to be some rocky roads ahead at times. No matter how good a side you are, you will always lose some games of cricket against the very good sides we're playing. But you don't become bad players or a bad team overnight. Whatever you read, or people say about you, we know we've got some seriously world-class players in our team. This is a real test of our character. We've shown it in the past and hope we can show it again."

Strauss and Cook can take some comfort from the reputation of the Abu Dhabi surface. Both Tests played at the ground have been high-scoring draws and have four scores over 400 have been recorded.

"It's always nice when you turn up to a ground where history suggests you can score runs," Cook said. "But that doesn't really count for anything. We've got to go out and put our poor performance behind us. We held our hands up as a batting unit. The reason we didn't get close in that last match was the top six. The beauty about another game coming so quickly is we can put that right. I know we've got the characters and the record to do that."

It may be relevant that the only opening pair to score more runs together in 2011 were Pakistan's Mohammad Hafeez and Taufeeq Umar. Taufeeq scored 236 against Sri Lanka in the last Test in Abu Dhabi.

The pitch is expected to be slow, with England likely to remain unchanged. But Pakistan are considering bringing in Junaid Khan, who claimed five for 38 against Sri Lanka here in October, in place of Aizaz Cheema, and Umar Akmal in place of Asad Shafiq.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by JG2704 on (January 25, 2012, 22:13 GMT)

@DrAtharAbbas on (January 24 2012, 04:48 AM GMT) - I actually spent some time typing out a post addressing this which for some reason ESPN didn't publish. I am going to try again. To be fair Pakistan had only played/beaten lowly ranked teams - the best being Sri Lanka who they only won one of the 3 tests against. Having said that (whether or not it was purely Pak playing well or Eng being poor or prob a combo of both) Pak upped their game and beat England fair and square. Pak have played in UAE for some time so will obviously be more used to conditions , but the fact is that this was an excellent win and congratulations to you

Posted by JG2704 on (January 24, 2012, 21:53 GMT)

@AlanHarrison on (January 24 2012, 13:19 PM GMT) Cheers for the response. I want to see Monty included in the side but the thing I worry about - apart from being unable to take the wickets in these conditions quickly enough to win the match as I mentioned before - but if he is included at the expense of a paceman and then Broad or Anderson suffer burnout or worse still an injury , I can't see 3 bowlers bowling Pak out to win. It'll be a hard enough task with 5. We have been fairly fortunate re injuries to our bowlers during a game and more importantly we need to change the course quickly as it is only a 3 match series. I know the 6/1/4 has served us well in the past but we have a tougher side to break down in what are probably better batting conditions and we're playing catch up. I see Tremlett is now out so would like to see Monty and Finn come in for Morgan. PS also think Atherton would have played with Gooch a bit

Posted by JG2704 on (January 24, 2012, 21:53 GMT)

@rahulcricket007 on (January 24 2012, 05:03 AM GMT) - So you're jumping on the Pakistan bandwagon now? @DUKECOUNT on (January 24 2012, 09:10 AM GMT) do you also have a 3rd team ? - Not fickle at all?

Posted by   on (January 24, 2012, 18:05 GMT)

@ Devashish Singbal o....its not just one bad result for england in asia...there is series of bad results for england here in asia...just like India's recent bad results of overseas loosing percentage for last 7 games which is now 100%...same the case with the England their winning percentage is not at high level unlikely their no.1 name in test nations...thats why they are under so much critisism...

Posted by   on (January 24, 2012, 14:58 GMT)

@ DUKECOUNT ... Calling PAK the No.1 test team in the world is the craziest thing I've heard in recent times .. I am also an Indian and I also admire the resurgence of the team after the turmoil they went through last year ... But calling them the No.1 test team without judging their overseas performances is ridiculous ... If any team comes close to being the real No. 1 is England and counting just one bad performance doesn't mean they will not be able to perform in the upcoming 2 matches.

Posted by   on (January 24, 2012, 14:41 GMT)

Many people are giving suggestions to play an extra bowler to force result in abu dhabi its a good positive move but i am sorry to say that i have keenly observed abu dhabi wicket its very flat lifeless wicket and if south african attack were unable to draw a result then this English attack can do much even if you play both monty and finn alongwith regular 3 .The fate of the series was very much evident from the two first class matches when we saw English giants crumbled to below par scores .Interesting thing is to look for 3rd test result whose gonna win that and In 2nd test whther on abu dhabi flat track can English batsmen score or not ?

Posted by Warraich306 on (January 24, 2012, 13:24 GMT)

Pakistan Team is the best team in world.Because its players are very Talented PAKISTAN ZIDABAD

Posted by AlanHarrison on (January 24, 2012, 13:19 GMT)

@JG2704: I would have preferred to see England play an extra bowler for some time, but the existing management clearly disagrees: the only times they did it (discouting cases where Flintoff was around) was in the last test of the West Indies series in 2008-9 when England were one down with one to play, and in the Headingley test of 2009 (which was a bit of a disaster), so I think we'll only see an extra bowler played if this next test is a draw. Flower and co could doubtless say in their defence that England under their leadership with four bowlers have been successful. I'm a bit surprised to read in ths article that in terms of test innings together as openers Strauss and Cook are so far ahead of all other England test opening combinations. One might have expected Atherton and Stewart to be up since they were cotnemporaries and played for over a decade, but I suppose the selectors kept asking Stewart to keep wicket and dropping him down the order out of fear of overburdening him

Posted by LittleRed93 on (January 24, 2012, 13:18 GMT)

Paul Collingwood was on Cottesloe Beach, Perth with me today! Should be in Dubai, shame he retired.

Posted by   on (January 24, 2012, 13:03 GMT)

Junaid must be in for tomorrow.

Posted by   on (January 24, 2012, 13:00 GMT)

@subhash dev...lol im surprised if thats our home den why not you guys come and play here,it will b best to know who is best in this so called home pitch! and as for india and england,their recent form and world ranking, would certainly surprised anyone, especially india has been a poor case since the world cup.

Posted by mohamedsanseer on (January 24, 2012, 12:34 GMT)

pakistan doing well these dys...but the only problem is their strike rates...they have to score atleast over 300 a day..hope they finish it as 3-0 white wash..

Posted by Haleos on (January 24, 2012, 11:53 GMT)

@DUKECOUNT - Pak the No. 1 test team? you must be joking. Their bowlers are the best. Thats all. their bastman will still struggle in unfriendly conditions.

Posted by jonesy2 on (January 24, 2012, 11:31 GMT)

how has strauss stayed in the united XI so long? i guess that just illustrates the apparent weakness of the united XI

Posted by   on (January 24, 2012, 10:38 GMT)

i think same side is a good option for pakistan. if pakisatn just one change wahab on for cheema is much beter for pakisan. i think pakistan will does beter in upcoming match*

Posted by Elliott_Tree on (January 24, 2012, 10:37 GMT)

@cricket_fan_1980: I wouldn't consider the pitch for the last test to be a bad 'flat track' - from what I heard/saw it looked like an excellent Test match pitch. Sure, it was more bat-friendly than bowler-friendly (though you had to watch the Pak innnings to see that, unfortunately for me!), but that is fine - there was a bit there for good bowlers. I also share in some people's distaste for the over-eager censure, by administrators, of pitches that take 'excessive' turn. Pah. Learn to play spin.

Posted by keptalittlelow on (January 24, 2012, 9:56 GMT)

@YorkshirePudding "I might remeind you that Pakistan has yet to win outside of the UAE/Sub-continent against any of the top 4". I am afraid you have forgotten how many times Pakistan won series against england in England, also they beat both England and Australia in 2010 despite all the off field problems, get your facts right mate!

Posted by   on (January 24, 2012, 9:53 GMT)

Trescothick was the best batsman ever produced by England. He was the one who had the ability to adapt to all three forms of the game and when Kevin Peiterson arrived by scoring those three blistering one day centuries in South Africa, one got an impression that with batsman like Trescothick, Pieterson, Collingwood and Flintoff England will finally put up a competitive one day team which can regularly compete with great one day teams like Australia, South Africa and three Asian Giants. But a country far too obsessed with test match Cricket players like Cook get too much of headlines as well as one day captaincy. I mean any good one day team can't even thinking of playing a cook in their team and England has a captain in him. Therefore i don't see England winning a Cricket World Cup in near future. England board never gave due respect to what Collingwood needed as a one day captain and a T 20 captain. Not even after winning the T20 world Cup in West Indies.

Posted by Abdurrazaaq on (January 24, 2012, 9:33 GMT)

Everyone keeps criticizing the Sub continent teams for only winning in their respective countries, but how often has the "mighty" England won series on the sub continent??? Pakistan look like a promising unit with "cool as a cucumber" Misbah(reminds me of Inzi) at the helm.

Posted by smartfarooq on (January 24, 2012, 9:23 GMT)

Asad shafiq is better than Umar bat Asad shafiq will have to score more. I think Yasir Shah should be given chance replacing Abdur Rehman. No matter Wahab or Junaid, We should have a left arm bowler for perfect combination. Good going Pak Team

Posted by DUKECOUNT on (January 24, 2012, 9:10 GMT)

I'm an Indian by nationality, but PAK has always been my 2nd most fav cric team after Ind. The unique and raw talent that keep oozing out of the country as well as their "fighting like cornered-tigers" attitude has never ceased to amaze me.

I hav little doubt tht our Pakistani brothers will thrash the Poms once again and nothing short of a 3-0 whitewash would be a fitting answer to the humiliation heaped on us by the Englishmen.

AJMAL, the Superstar rockzz..... Spin ur web once more around the befuddled Englishmen....... Hav been following this series more keenly than the so-called AGNEEPATH series down-under.....

Go PAK Go.... ur undoubtedly the No.1 Test team in the world right now......

Posted by YorkshirePudding on (January 24, 2012, 9:06 GMT)

After the first test, Pakistan really impressed as they had a lot to prove to the cricketing world, it was also the kick up the backside england needed to remind them they werent the finished article....I'm looking forward the next test as it will be interesting to see how we bounce back....@ (January 23 2012, 19:24 PM GMT) I might remeind you that Pakistan has yet to win outside of the UAE/Sub-continent against any of the top 4.

Posted by   on (January 24, 2012, 9:06 GMT)

Pak Vs Eng #Cricket: #ENGLAND stands for "E nglish N ation G onna L ook for AN other D efeat" in the coming test

Posted by Vindaliew on (January 24, 2012, 8:26 GMT)

I know it's an acceptable name abbreviation in English terms, but don't we normally refer to H. Sutcliffe as Herbert Sutcliffe, to distinguish him from the New Zealand batsman Bert Sutcliffe?

Posted by   on (January 24, 2012, 8:25 GMT)

Two top players.Long may their partnership remain.

Posted by   on (January 24, 2012, 8:18 GMT)

Also bring in Yasir Shah in place of Abdul Rehman. He is a very good leg spinner who took 8 wickets in the practice match!

Posted by wahid123 on (January 24, 2012, 8:12 GMT)

InshAllah pakistan will clean sweap against England.

Posted by   on (January 24, 2012, 7:59 GMT)

stick with asad.bring in junaid khan for cheema..

Posted by   on (January 24, 2012, 7:52 GMT)

Two Akmal's should not have been playing at the same time in the team......thats not a good omen (historically) however Umer's record is much better than Shafiq. Besides Wahab has much proven sting and should be playing if Aijaz is injured. Where is Collingwood...hez a true master.....should have been playing in for Bell now

Posted by   on (January 24, 2012, 7:44 GMT)

@ Zafar Khan Nasseri Yes India and England are play well at home so as Pakistan too as UAE can be considered as their home too.Pakistan are playing well at the moment but still they are yet to prove when they tours oveseas and tehy still have many hurdles to cross to be self proclaims as teh best team in the World

Posted by   on (January 24, 2012, 7:14 GMT)

@ Zafar, expecting a clean sweep will be asking for too much. I wish that pakistan will win all the series.

Posted by   on (January 24, 2012, 6:47 GMT)

i think Misbah and Younis are very stable and Slow. they do provide the stability but kill the run rate. Asad shafiq is also Not some1 with an attacking mindset. I think we need some flare. Get umar akmal in. The wickets are flat and no doubt hes talented. some1 coming down the order and playing at a quick rate would really be damaging for england.look at australia playing right now.....clark and ponting are hammering away at a fast rate....i repeat. ..get umar akmal in n hope that he fires :D

Posted by Lovelysal on (January 24, 2012, 6:30 GMT)

Good luck Pakistan!! Actually we dont need to be guilty for making spinners picthes in Asia as it is our strength. When we go Australlia, England, South Africa, Newzeland or even west indies they are making bouncy seam wickets. Enjoy the game as it is..win or loose it is part of the game..England thrashed India in England but when they came in India they couldnt even stand up in the crease..Play in your strength..

Posted by Athar.Saeed on (January 24, 2012, 6:04 GMT)

Umar Akmal is a run machine, he plays the test with very good strike rate as well, if he joins the team he would need to be more sensible and mature. Good Luck Umar Akmal.

Posted by umairtulla on (January 24, 2012, 5:36 GMT)

I think Omar akmal is better than asad cuz he did a good job last year and he has more potential then asad safiq, and he is better fielder than asad.

Posted by badmaash on (January 24, 2012, 5:25 GMT)

Stick with Asad Shafiq - Umar Akmal has had more than his fair share of chances. He is also a divisive figure and will seed discord within the Pakistani camp.

Posted by rahulcricket007 on (January 24, 2012, 5:03 GMT)

@BRITTOP . DON'T WORRY UMAR WILL SHOW YOU THE REASON WITH HIS BAT FOR HIS SELECTION .

Posted by DrAtharAbbas on (January 24, 2012, 4:48 GMT)

Before the series, it was said every where "Pakistan has been winning only against the low ranked teams, It would be different when they will play against the #1 ranked team" After the first innings/first test it was said "They [England] have just played one bad innings, they will come back strongly in the second". After the second innings, it is said " they [England] have just played one bad match, they will certainly come back strongly in the next two". The predication of their next statements is rather easy. After the series, they will say: "Everyone plays good in their own backyard. Pakistan will know their strengths when they play England in England on bouncy pitches. I hope English have not forgotten the decade long triumphs of Pakistan in England series after series in 1990s ... ....... isn't it easier to accept: they are playing better. [Period]

Posted by   on (January 24, 2012, 4:08 GMT)

I think both changes would benefit the team. Wahab riaz is an excellent bowler but is better suited for the shorter formats of the game.Umar should be bought up the order and should be asked to play a long innings on a more consistent basis.

Posted by shahbazsiddiqui on (January 24, 2012, 1:39 GMT)

I think our little master umar akmal and talented wahab riaz should be played in next test.......!!!!

Posted by Zahidsaltin on (January 24, 2012, 0:15 GMT)

Bad choice of bring Junaid in. I think Wahab is still the best left armer in the country.

Posted by Shah-Ji on (January 23, 2012, 23:46 GMT)

It is the number of tests ENG plays. They can play 50 tests in few years.So they are able to open 100 times together

Re change in PAK If Umar Akmal is coming in He shouldbat at No 3 or 4. Plesae do not drop any of the spinner .If Management want to bring Wahab or Junaid ,it should be at the cost of cheema only.

Posted by Hasan2012 on (January 23, 2012, 22:50 GMT)

Its time to Mr.Cook to score some (more) runs, had two double tons and a century last test played at Abu Dhabi so its looking good for AC. Good Luck to Alastair Cook :-)

Posted by A.Ashraf on (January 23, 2012, 22:30 GMT)

I am quite sure that this is gonna be a tough match for both teams. England wants to proof their status as the best Test team and Pakistan wants to proob that they are consistent winning team. I hope Pk will play good cricket and i am pleased to see a tough competition.

Posted by landl47 on (January 23, 2012, 22:22 GMT)

I hope this isn't going to be a dead pitch. If there's some assistance for the bowlers, whether for seam or spin, then it's up to the two teams to determine which of them is the best. Both sides can field balanced attacks for both seaming and spinning conditions, so there should be no excuses whoever wins. Seeing both sides pile up huge first-innings scores and have no chance of forcing a result will be bad for test cricket. I'm sure Pakistan want to clinch the series as much as England want to level it, so let's see a good cricket wicket and a great game.

Posted by DomP on (January 23, 2012, 22:01 GMT)

I think England will play with much less bravado this time round, but will it be enough? I think KP's place must come under scrutiny again soon. Let's have Finn and Monty in for Moprgan and Tremlett?

Posted by brittop on (January 23, 2012, 21:25 GMT)

Did Asad Shafiq replace Umar Akmal due to an injury to Akmal? If not, not sure why Shafiq would be dropped and replaced by Akmal. His record appears fine and no worse than Akmal's, so if he was considered a better bet than Akmal, what's changed?

Posted by   on (January 23, 2012, 21:21 GMT)

duck partnership on 100th innings together will be great hahaha... come on Gul

Posted by   on (January 23, 2012, 21:04 GMT)

What strikes me most about this series is the sportsmanship of the Pakistani fans that write on here. You guys are honest, decent, fair and speak with intelligence and knowledge of the game. I wish I could say that same for Indian fans, i think they have a lot to learn from you guys.

Posted by   on (January 23, 2012, 19:55 GMT)

I would not suggest umar instead i would have stick to asad shafiq for next game also

Posted by shamlaatu on (January 23, 2012, 19:39 GMT)

Funny thing is, you would expect pacers to do the damage on day one but England were crippled by Pak spinners on the first day, and you would expect spinners to do the damage on day three and on wards but England were dented by pacers on day three... Well, I am looking for a hard fought game in the 2nd test and being a Pak supporter I would naturally like Pak to win just as English supporters will want England to make it 1-1... But lets hope that the game of cricket prevails at the end of the day. GO PAKISTAN !!! GO ENGLAND !!!!

Posted by   on (January 23, 2012, 19:24 GMT)

England can win just in their country like India....and pakistan can win any where ...i think Pakistan is the best team at the moment...i wish that paskitan will clean sweap England in all formats of the series...

Posted by   on (January 23, 2012, 19:11 GMT)

Go Greens Go! Take the Jacks Down This Time Again!

Posted by JG2704 on (January 23, 2012, 18:58 GMT)

@Muhammad Sharjeel on (January 23 2012, 16:26 PM GMT) - I agree with you. Just because we have done it before doesn't mean that we can do it this time. This is also the 1st time we've actually had to bounce back to draw level in a series , plus it is not in conditions we're so used to playing , plus Pakistan are right on top of their game right now. I always feared their bowlers , but there was a steel about their batting line up too. I have just posted another piece (which I hope ESPN publish) on why IMO it is essential that we go for an extra bowler. Based on stats from the 1st test , on these slow scoring pitches , even if Eng up their batting , if Pak score similarly then we won't have enough time to win. We could try and up our run rate but I feel that we'dbe trying to run before we can walk

Posted by coolitbaby on (January 23, 2012, 18:51 GMT)

I think Ajmal should not play. It is clear that his doosra is illegal by international standards. Pakistan should try to win at least 1 game honestly in this test series.

Posted by JG2704 on (January 23, 2012, 18:51 GMT)

Ive read that Eng are likely to field the same side.Am I the only person who sees this is a very negative move?We are now in the unfamiliar position of being 1-0 down in a 3 match series.Now even to draw level we need to win one of next 2 tests and to win the series we need both of them. Most of us have said that it was our batting that let us down and that our bowling wasn't too bad,maybe even good.Now if Pakistan score 338 when our bowling is ok,so say we double Pak's 1st inns total for the match total of 676,then England need to score more than that to win.If we go by the run rates from the 1st test (and we don't want Eng to give wickets away by trying to up the RR) then it would take Eng 250 overs to get 676 runs and Pak 240 overs to get there.So by my calculation this exceeds the 90 overs pd over 5 days by 40 overs.Surely on that basis regardless of how our batsmen do we need to bowl Pak out quicker and for less runs and surely our best chance is by having the extra bowler?

Posted by dapervez on (January 23, 2012, 18:46 GMT)

England will try and bounce back this test, Pakistan will have to be really careful and not be over confident or complacent this time around. GO PAKISTAN GO !!

That said I have to say COOK/STRAUSS are my favorite opening pair for a long time - Without doubt the classiest pair after Hayden/Langer. Keep up the good work !

Posted by JG2704 on (January 23, 2012, 18:31 GMT)

Not sure what to think re England. If we go by Pakistan's form since we beat them in 2010 , SA (H) 0-0 (2) , NZ (A) 1-0 (2) , WI (A) 1-1 (2) , Zim (h) 1-0 (1) . SL (H) 1-0 (3) Ban (A) 2-0 (2) . Now if we take the Zimbabwe and Bangladesh 100% performances out (as most top 8 teams should go 100% vs those 2 in tests) then the record would read P 9 , W 3 , L 1 , D 5. Now , being that 5 of those matches were at home , where they have won only one of those matches and they have gone 2-1 up in 4 tests away to 2 of the weaker test nations in NZ and WI - although their record commands respect , on paper it's not frighteningly good. Having said that they are in a lead and my feelings are that they will fight tooth and nail to keep hold of this series lead. Maybe Pak have upped their game considerably and improve further from the confidence they'll have from the 1st test result.

Posted by dmqi on (January 23, 2012, 18:23 GMT)

We were asking for Umar Akaml 's inclusion and cheema's replacement and it looks like we got it. Captain and coach, you are listening to us and we will cheer for you. If Umar does not score a 50 at least, it will be disappointing, I hope he will. Let's us beat England and close this case of #1 ranking. They are a very good team and they will fight very hard this time, keep that in mind.

Posted by shahzebkhaan on (January 23, 2012, 18:22 GMT)

nice to hear changes this will certainly help and also good to read cook determine english side has no doubt world class player but they are going to spend much harder time in subcontinent pitches pakistan has some very extra ordinary records at these grounds plus their progress ..... it would be a difficult task for english batsmen if pak manage 300 batting first

Posted by siltbreeze on (January 23, 2012, 18:16 GMT)

"England likely to remain unchanged" - The continuity and consistency of selection have been one of the keys to England's recent success. The selectors have been brave when certain players have been out of form and under fire (I was one of those calling for Cook to be dropped early in 2010). However, continuity is turning into stubbornness and inflexibility and this strength is becoming a weakness. It is clearly a mistake to play one spinner in the UAE - even SA played Harris and Botha in Abu Dhabi and England have a genuine matchwinning second spinner. It really is hard to believe that Tremlett will be of more value than Panesar in this match.

Posted by adarshrulz on (January 23, 2012, 17:56 GMT)

hoping english team gives a tough fight and we get to see a contest.. replace tremlett wid panesar.. bell shud bat fearlessly.. in the previous test h looked scared..god luck too both teams

Posted by cricket_fan_1980 on (January 23, 2012, 16:48 GMT)

Elliot_Tree, I think its unfair to have the same tune all the time about bashing flat tracks. It really does sound like a broken record, considering the scores at Dubai last week. England couldn't make 200 even once, so I'm not sure bashing flat tracks is valid at all, particularly in this case. On a different note, I do hope Cook finds his form. I think Pakistan's strategy is very clever, harass the openers early with spin and try to throw them off rhythm. Also, Cheema really was on top of Strauss with the ball moving away across the wicket. I think the batting threats for Pakistan will be Prior, Morgan and maybe Pieterson. Pakistan should be thinking about good strategies to restrict these three, well and maybe Trott as well. Also, Tremlett really shouldn't play, he appears to be quite a mediocre bowler.

Posted by   on (January 23, 2012, 16:26 GMT)

Thats good news that umar akmal and junaid khan can come into play .It will strengthen our team and Eng should nt get carried away with recent past bouncing back history because conditions here are completely changed and pakistan is one of the most competent opposition among asian teams recently so if Eng can manage drawing the series they will definitely defeat the next two asian powers but first they have to win a test against resurgent Pakistan.Good luch both teams hope this time match goes to fourth and final day.

Posted by   on (January 23, 2012, 16:24 GMT)

Would really love to see the English side get back to their great form. It would be amazing to see the Pakistan bowling attack taking on the English batsmen all trying not to get out cheaply this time. Junaid khan would definitely bring more strength. With both the pacemen and spinners having a left right combination, English men will be tested hard. I have hardly waited for any test this desperately. Fingers crossed for a great contest.

Posted by Elliott_Tree on (January 23, 2012, 16:11 GMT)

I hope the bowling conditions aren't too lifeless - good for spinners or quicks, I don't mind, but there has to be something there for someone. I think pitches should be different across the world, and a turning track is just as great as a fast, bouncy one. It is only lifeless 600-dec plays 600-dec pitches that are a curse.

Posted by   on (January 23, 2012, 16:06 GMT)

PAKISTAN'S CHANGES SEEMS REALLY GOOD......UMAR AKMAL WILL HELP IN INCREASING THE RUN RATE WHEREAS JUNAID WILL PROVIDE ABDUR RAHMAN SOME ROUGH PATCHES TO MAKE THE BALL BOUNCE MORE AND ADD A QUALITY LEFT ARM PACE TO THE PAKISTAN SIDE...!!!

Posted by PiyushD on (January 23, 2012, 16:05 GMT)

hahahahaha reality strinking England on face, be ready for 2-0.

Posted by Crazy4cricket40 on (January 23, 2012, 16:04 GMT)

yes perfect changes for pakistan...akmal for shafiq and juaid or wahab for cheema. i have a feeling that england wil again struggle here as its going to b a slow pitch. its going to be draw or win for pakistan

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Tour Results
England v Pakistan at Abu Dhabi - Feb 27, 2012
England won by 5 runs
England v Pakistan at Dubai (DSC) - Feb 25, 2012
England won by 38 runs
England v Pakistan at Dubai (DSC) - Feb 23, 2012
Pakistan won by 8 runs
England v Pakistan at Dubai (DSC) - Feb 21, 2012
England won by 4 wickets (with 4 balls remaining)
England v Pakistan at Dubai (DSC) - Feb 18, 2012
England won by 9 wickets (with 76 balls remaining)
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