Pakistan v England, 2nd Test, Abu Dhabi, 3rd day January 27, 2012

The future's bright for Pakistan

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

Shot of the day
Azhar Ali's cover drive off James Anderson just four overs before the close of play was not only timed as sweetly as anything we have seen on this somewhat truculent surface but it spoke volumes about the class and assurance of the next generation of Pakistan batting. Azhar and Shafiq came together with their side still trailing by 16 and the experienced batsmen already dismissed but if the pair were in any way overawed they didn't show it. They batted with discipline and composure. The shot, and the stand, bore the hallmark of real class.

Drama of the day
Pakistan have enjoyed little luck with umpiring decisions in this match. Yes, they have not helped themselves with poor judgement using DRS but they could also claim, with some justification, that a few marginal decisions have not gone their way. So it was when Stuart Broad survived a run-out appeal on 33. Broad, committed to an optimistic single, threw himself into a dive with outstretched bat in an attempt to beat Azhar Ali's direct hit from cover. Replays were not absolutely clear: in one frame, just before the stumps were broken, it appeared that Broad's bat had bounced and was in the air. In the next, the stumps were broken and Broad's bat was grounded. With no frame in between, the third umpire, Billy Bowden, decided - quite reasonably - to give the benefit of the doubt to the batsman. Broad survived and scored another 25 to help England add another 59.

Ball of the day
The word "unplayable" tends to be overused but may be the best description of the delivery that dismissed Younis Khan. Drawn well forward, he was beaten first by the flight and then by the turn as Monty Panesar produced the perfect ball that pitched middle and clipped the top of off stump. It was almost an action replay of Leeds in 2006, when Monty dismissed the same batsman with the same delivery.

Let-off of the day
A strong contender was Junaid Khan's dropping of Matt Prior - a simple chance at this level - but Prior's dismissal for the addition of just one more run ensured Pakistan escaped punishment. It might remind Khan that unless he improves his fielding, he risks his international future: Pakistan have several good, young bowlers and fielding ability could well be the decisive criteria. But the let-off on the third day came when Kevin Pietersen, running in from cover, missed with his underarm throw from little more than ten feet. Had he hit, Asad Shafiq would have been run out for 26 and Pakistan would have been 93 for five. Pietersen had three stumps to aim at and has endured a very poor series to date. Shafiq went on to help Pakistan to stumps with Azhar Ali and sustained Pakistan's hopes of another win.

Sight of the day
Watching spectators streaming into the ground was an immensely heartening sight. Many people took advantage of the free entry and at one stage there were queues outside and a sizeable Pakistan contingent within; this after the lack of spectators for the first five days of this series. So why the low attendances on other days? Several reasons: unlike the UK, there are few retired people interested in the game - Pakistani workers tend to return to Pakistan when they retire - and most working people here say they cannot afford to take the time off during the working week (Friday and Saturday constitute the weekend in the UAE). Locals still show little interest in the game. Still, the ground authorities deserve credit for the free entry idea and it did show that interest in the game - if not in attendance - remains high.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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