Pakistan v England, 3rd Test, Dubai February 2, 2012

History beckons for Pakistan

Match facts

February 3-7, Dubai International Cricket Stadium, Dubai
Start time 1000 (0600 GMT)

Big Picture

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.

Form guide

Pakistan: WWWWD
England: LLWWW

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.

Team news

Ian Bell has recovered from a stomach illness as England look set to stick with the same team from Abu Dhabi. Pakistan have to decide whether to retain Junaid Khan as the second seamer, replace him with Wahab Riaz or bring Aizaz Cheema, who was injured after the first Test, back into the side.

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

The pitch for the first Test offered a little assistance to the bowlers but this surface is brand new, never been used. There is less grass on this pitch, with Misbah saying: "It looks an even better wicket than the first Test, especially for batting." This could finally be the run-fest we were expecting before the start of the series.

Stats and trivia

  • Fifty of 70 wickets in the series have fallen to spinners.
  • There have only been six dismissals via catches at slip.
  • Saeed Ajmal moved up to the No. 2 bowler in the world after taking 7 for 130 in the second Test.
  • England's 72 in Abu Dhabi was their lowest Test score in Asia.
  • England's middle-order trio of Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bell and Eoin Morgan have contributed 94 runs at 7.83 in the series.


"We're not going to get too caught up in the downward spiral, but obviously we need to learn the lessons from where we have gone wrong."
Andrew Strauss, the England captain, reflects on his side's previous two defeats.

"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

Alex Winter is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo