Pakistan v England, 2nd Test, Abu Dhabi, 1st day January 25, 2012

Panesar the surprise package

ESPNcricinfo presents the Plays of the Day from the first day of the second Test between Pakistan and England in Abu Dhabi

Surprise (or not) of the day
The inclusion of Monty Panesar as one of a four-man attack marked a sharp departure from the norm for England. It was the first time they fielded two spinners as part of a four-man attack since December 2003, when they drew with Sri Lanka in Kandy. This was also the first time England had picked two specialist spinners since Panesar last played, in July 2009, against Australia in Cardiff. Perhaps we shouldn't have been surprised: excluding Tests against Bangladesh, England's only victory in Asia in the last decade - at Mumbai in 2006 - came with an attack including two spinners.

Shot of the day
England were on top; Pakistan had lost 4 for 53 - and 2 for 5 - and their fifth-wicket pair had faced 29 balls between them and scored just three from the bat. But if Misbah-ul-Haq was intimidated, he was not showing it. Instead of allowing England to crowd the bat with close fielders, he planted his left foot down the pitch and thumped Panesar for a six over long-on. And again next ball. On the face of things, it was as audacious as it was surprising but, with the field in, it was a relatively safe shot and forced Panesar to rethink his field. Remarkably, Misbah repeated the stroke twice in the final over of the day.

Poor shot of the day
Asad Sahfiq had played so well. With his captain, Misbah-ul-Haq, he steered Pakistan away from the rocks with a partnership of 100 and registered his own 50. Playing straight and waiting for the poor ball had served him well. But suddenly he launched into a fierce sweep against a straight delivery and was hit in front. It was an unworthy end to a fine innings and led to Pakistan losing 3 for 40 at a time when they could have been consolidating.

Drop of the day
The partnership between Misbah-up-Haq and Asad Shafiq was already worth 64 when Panesar drew Misbah forward, spun the ball away and took the outside edge. James Anderson, usually so reliable wherever he finds himself in the field, reacted late at slip and was unable to cling on to the chance. Misbah was on 30 at the time. Whether the batsman then turned to Anderson - à la Steve Waugh to Herschelle Gibbs in the 1999 World Cup - and remarked "You've just dropped the Alfalah Bank-presents-the-Mobilink Jazz Cup" seems unlikely. But it might well prove to be the moment that England allowed their best chance of fighting their way back into this series to go begging. Misbah finished the day unbeaten on 83.

Disappointment of the day
It would be wrong to use the word "crowd" to describe the number of spectators at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium. Low attendances at Tests aren't unusual but the disappointment on this occasion was compounded by the fact that entry was free. It does beg the question: is international cricket sustainable in the UAE? The answer to that is unclear. While Pakistan are unable to play international cricket in their own country - and it will probably be some time before all Test-playing countries are happy to return - these grounds are well-placed to retain international cricket. But once Pakistan are able to host games again, who will play here?

Delivery of the day
Graeme Swann set up Taufeeq Umar up beautifully with the delivery before the dismissal: a sharply spinning off break that drew Umar into a grope outside off stump. Swann then delivered a well-disguised arm ball that convinced Umar to shoulder arms and allow the ball to crash in to his off stump. Who needs a doosra?

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments