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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Aamir on January 28, 2012, 16:52 GMT

    Who was predicting Pakistan's loss? Who wanted Rehman to be dropped?

  • Yasir on January 28, 2012, 16:01 GMT

    @Zeeshan and @Ali Zafar, dont you think your mouth opens too early. Just once read your comments and see what you have written. "Bring back Afridi" do you follow cricket he has retired more times than he has made centuries.

    See Rehman's performance, now he has a 6fer and man of the match. In which match do you think he did not bowl well. Are you both from antarctic where these match transmissions do not exist ?

  • muhammad hammad on January 28, 2012, 8:30 GMT

    I simply registered on cricinfo just to applaud on this well balanced and factual article .That is how every other writer should be like.Highlight the issues and appreciate the talent .Very well done

  • michael on January 28, 2012, 4:03 GMT

    Pietersen needs a good old fashioned kick up the back-side. All that talent, yet the consistency he showed in his first 2-3 years seem to have disappeared. Calls to drop him are ridiculous however. 19 hundreds in 79 tests at almost 50 is still world class, just wish we could have the bold KP of 05/06 not this "caught in two minds" Kevin we have now. Drop Morgan for Bopara for the remainder of the winter. Long term,James Taylor seems to fit the bill.

  • ABDUL on January 28, 2012, 2:29 GMT

    If Azhar and Shafiq go on to make hundreds there is a possibality Pakistan will have an excwllent chance to win the match,however their two opening bowlers Junaid and Gul have shown thet are not by any means test standard.Azizza Cheema is unlucky to be dropped for this match he would have been a greater threat than these two because he slants the ball away from the left handers and into the right hand batsman who have to play the inswinging delivery.It is proving to be a bad selection to pick Junaid.There is no doubt that Kneria would have been an ideal partner for Ajmal where as Rehman does not have the variety that Kneria is gifited with. Pakistan also need to replace Taueef he has no idea how to play spinners and should be replaced with Imran Farhat,Younis needs to drop down the order to no5 and promote Shafiq to the no3 batting he is the future of Pakistan cricket with Misbah in at 4 so he bat with the top order and not the tail as so often has done in the past.

  • Dummy4 on January 27, 2012, 20:19 GMT

    pakistan should think to bat all the day instead of thinking how much they've got on board. if they bat 1 day then they r sure to get 250 more which means saving of test or winning because english players will go behind win to level the series. but it is going to be tough ask though, for pakistan to bat all day but it is cricket afterall.

  • Dummy4 on January 27, 2012, 17:39 GMT

    it is shameful moment for pakistan selector they select time pass team how much and how long they depend on bowling they have to replace tufeeq and bring back umar akmal also replace rehman bring shaid afridi atleast both can attack in quick time and make pressure to other side better rest umer gul and bring back wahab riaz +give chance kamran akmal as batsman

  • Owais on January 27, 2012, 16:21 GMT

    Pakistan have many bowlers sitting on the bench and in order to be selected I think along with fielding, something the writer has pointed out, lower order batting grit should also be a factor. Starting Adnan Akmal, Pakistan's lower order batting often falls like pack of cards. Saeed Ajmal and Umar Gul are two examples where batting skills have actually significantly deteriorated. I dont think Gul is a test caliber player anymore. Lacks mental strength. Pakistan in need to find two good fast bowlers.

  • Dummy4 on January 27, 2012, 16:21 GMT

    I told you guys on on 2nd day of the match that this test match belongs to England and this is going to be,this game will over on 4th day as England will win by 10 wickets very very easily.Pakistan's first test victory was purely an accidental,Pakistani media made so much noise on Pakistan win that I was laughing big time.

    Pakistan needs to get rid of Mishbah ul Haq as soon as possible,they need to make Younis Khan long term captain of Tests and One day on his conditions.Mishbah is just a waste,he block and block which give advantage to the bowler,this is not the way to play,I will rate Shewag more higher than Mishbah,because at least Shewag try to overcome the bowlers and he make some useful runs,blocking never helps,why does Mishbah do not play at No.3 positions when he has to block all the deliveries?

    Cricinfo please publish my articles,its been missing since long time,I wrote on India and Australia series,but never got published.PLEASE TAKE NOTICE OF IT,

  • shahid on January 27, 2012, 16:08 GMT

    Pakistan must play Azhar and Hafiz as the opening pair in the 3rd match. Taufik is in huge problem facing Swan. One down should go to Umar Akmal. My team for the 3rd. match is Hafiz, Azhar Ali, Umar Akmal, Younis, Misbah, Asad Shafiq, Adnan Akmal, Wahab Riaz, Abdul Rehman, Gul and Saeed Ajmal

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