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 have now been closed for this article

  • Rahul on January 26, 2012, 5:08 GMT

    I am surprised the drop of Adnan of Anderson by Strauss doesnt get a mention here. It was an atrocious shot by Adnan that too of a second new ball when Pak had just lost Asad and his skipper staring from other end. Strauss was later seen practicing with his fingers pointed up to take that catch.

  • Dom on January 26, 2012, 5:08 GMT

    Steve, I hope you are right, but it could go the other way too! Pakistan's tail frustrate, and manage 350-400. England are bamboozled out, and narrowly avoid the follow on... :(

  • Muhammad Ali on January 26, 2012, 4:31 GMT

    hahah :D 'who needs a doosra?' ... Yeah right .. Mr. Dobell, with all due respect, i am wondering (since i have started reading your articles lately) whether your articles reflect your personal bias or do they reflect your lack of General understanding of this Game. Well whatever it is :D "In your face" is what my last words are going to be at the end of this series .. so just wait, watch and write stuff ... after all thats what gets you paid.. regardless of right or wrong ;)

  • A on January 26, 2012, 2:23 GMT

    I agree with a previous commentor. Give George Dobbell a break. I'm a Pakistani fan too and I criticized him earlier but have realized he's actually a really talented writer whose quite thoughtful and is actually overall unbiased. Give him a chance, he's written some really nice pieces recently, not just 2 or 3 but a whole bunch. More interestingly, to respond to Front-Foot-Lunge, I like the optimism. However, I don't think its the lack of big turn from Ajmal that is an issue. It is naive to think because he doesn't turn it England will capitalize. Its his speed, variations, masked hand, top spin, subtle sliders, skidders and occasional doosras that are the problem. And with that much variety, he often does turn it incredibly one ball in 10, but that is all he needs. I agree with another English fan here, if England don't make at least 100 to 150 more than what Pakistan post, it will be a really up hill task for them. I actually think Hafeez and Junaid are bigger threats.

  • David on January 26, 2012, 0:39 GMT

    The UAE is a stupid place for Pakistan to host Tests. As an article on Cricinfo some years ago argued ("A Home Away From Home"), they should play against India and Australia in England, against England in the West Indies and against everyone else in secondary venues in South Africa like Bloemfontein, East London and Paarl. That way they would get big crowds v ENG/AUS/IND and against the other countries they would learn to master quick bouncy tracks in SA where the time zone is good for TV and by playing there they would ensure that they master all alien conditions for when they have to play away. An annual 3 test series v India at Leicester plus 2 other rotating English venues would keep the BCCI and PCB rolling in money.

  • Khair ul on January 25, 2012, 23:50 GMT

    I quite agree Othman Ozzy that the discussions seem to be mostly about the English team, but that is how it has always been.

    I thought except for Panesar's wicket which was a really good ball, and Broad's wicket of Rahman, all the other 5 wickets were gifts owing to poor shot selection or over-confidence. Rahman, by the way, is clueless at 7 down. He bats the way of a typical no 11. After the batsmen, the first tail ender should be Saeed Ajmal who always puts a high price on his wicket.

  • Steve on January 25, 2012, 21:19 GMT

    A tight game looks on the cards - assuming England don't collapse at the sight of spin! (again) & assuming Pakistan make around 300, England are going to have to score at least 500 to have any significant upper hand? So it'll be tons needed from 3 or 4 of Struass, Cooke, Trott, Pieterson, Bell and Morgan with any welcome contribitions from Broad and Matt Prior ! Of course Cooke just do a big Daddy 250 and the others can chip in around him? Or Pieterson could explode and smash an exciting 150.... perhaps Bell will silence his critics with a significant knock? So many possibilities for so many alternate realties! I believe though.... COME ON ENGLAND!!!

  • Charles on January 25, 2012, 20:39 GMT

    C'mon lads from both the countries. No need for bickering. This was an absorbing day of cricket, and we were fortunate enough to witness/read it. I would say honors shared. By the end of tomorrow's play, we will get a clearer picture. But nevertheless, a great day for cricket. Although I am rooting for Pakistan, I will unabashedly cheer both teams on. GO PAKISTAN!!! GO ENGLAND!!! TEST MATCHES ROCK!!! And please give Mr. Dobell a break. He is new at this and is learning quickly. May I add, at the risk of being taken apart by my fellow Pakistanis, GEORGE DOBELL ROCKS!!!! :)

  • E on January 25, 2012, 20:39 GMT

    This editorial seems to be a surprising case of the comments being more informative than the article.

  • j on January 25, 2012, 20:22 GMT

    If England had taken their catches Pakistan would've been all out for 150. Swann bowled beautifully, and there were several lbw shouts that on another day could've gone their way, but seeing that Ajmal doesn't actually turn the ball, if England can not play for spin this time round they could post a big score.

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