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The Preview by Alex Winter
February 2, 2012
News : Bell fit as England look to restore confidence
Blogs : English cricket: the psychoanalyst's version
News : IPL a step towards England T20 side for Anderson
News : Shafiq not feeling the pressure
Matches: England v Pakistan at Dubai (DSC)
Series/Tournaments: England tour of United Arab Emirates
England came to the UAE as the No. 1 Test side but are in danger of losing that status in their first series since reaching the top of the rankings. Another defeat in Dubai, and a whitewash by South Africa of New Zealand, would see South Africa replace England: a scenario made possible by England's failure to chase 145 in Abu Dhabi.
Pakistan are plotting their own route to No. 1 and completing a 3-0 win would be a major step along that path. They will be hoping for another pitch that assists their spinners just enough to trouble England, and perhaps one which hinders the tourists' seamers - the one area where England can claim supremacy in the series.
Pakistan have never completed a series whitewash outside Pakistan so history beckons for this group of players if they can win again.
Many expected high-scoring draws from this series but the reality has been anything but. The bowlers' dominance has produced two fascinating matches so anticipate another intriguing encounter, with England's ability to deal with the Pakistan spin barrage holding the key to the result.
Players to watch
Saeed Ajmal is the kingmaker in this match. He has plunged England to new depths and has doubts firmly planted at the front of the batsmen's minds. If the tourists can find a way to overcome his psychological hold - as Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott briefly managed in Abu Dhabu - they may find a way to save face.
Pakistan (probable) 1 Mohammad Hafeez, 2 Taufeeq Umar, 3 Azhar Ali, 4 Younis Khan, 5 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), 6 Asad Shafiq, 7 Adnan Akmal (wk), 8 Abdur Rehman, 9 Umar Gul, 10 Saeed Ajmal, 11 Junaid Khan.
England (probable) 1 Andrew Strauss (capt), 2 Alastair Cook, 3 Jonathan Trott, 4 Kevin Pietersen, 5 Ian Bell, 6 Eoin Morgan, 7 Matt Prior (wk), 8 Stuart Broad, 9 Graeme Swann, 10 James Anderson, 11 Monty Panesar.
Pitch and conditions
Stats and trivia
"Mistakes are bound to happen. I tried my best to bat for longer but, once in a while, such a rush of blood will happen."
Asad Shafiq, the Pakistan batsman, on his rash shot in the first innings in Abu Dhabi
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