Pakistan v England, 3rd Test, Dubai, 2nd day

Younis' century puts Pakistan in control

The Report by David Hopps

February 4, 2012

Comments: 232 | Text size: A | A

Close Pakistan 99 and 222 for 2 (Younis 115*, Azhar 75*) lead England 141 (Strauss 56, Rehman 5-40) by 180 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Younis Khan acknowledges applause for his century, Pakistan v England, 3rd Test, Dubai, February 4, 2012
Younis Khan scored the first century of this series to put Pakistan in the driving seat in the third Test © Getty Images

The first hundred of this Test series was a long time in coming but it was well worth the wait. It went to Younis Khan, his enduring talent again lifting Pakistan's expectations that they can achieve their first whitewash in a Test series against England.

When Younis came to the crease shortly before lunch on the second day, he was out of form, 22 wickets had fallen for 268 runs and batsmen on both sides were in mental turmoil over a record number of lbw decisions in a three-Test series. Not another wicket fell all day.

By the close, Younis had 115, his third-wicket stand with Azhar Ali was worth 194 in 72 overs and Pakistan's lead was 180. Some Pakistan fans held aloft a banner stating that Pakistan's target was to be the No. 1 Test side in the world. England can confirm it is an uncomfortable place to be.

Whenever mutterings are heard that his Test career is nearing an end, Younis comes up with something special. England tried to bowl straight, seeking to add to the 37 lbws in the series (the record in any length of series is 43) but the pitch was slow and the sound of ball against pad was conspicuous by its absence as Younis worked the ball unflappably through the leg side.

It is only two months since Younis took an unbeaten double hundred off Bangladesh in Chittagong and his serenity flooded back. Both he and Azhar, whose restrained unbeaten 75 again identified him as a talent in the making, read the line confidently, their footwork was crisp and on the rare occasions Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann matched the turn found by Pakistan's left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman, they had the skill to adjust to the ball off the pitch.

England imagined they might have dismissed Azhar lbw, on 70, just before the close when Swann found turn around leg stump. Umpire Simon Taufel said no, England reviewed, more in hope than expectation, but to the consternation of the fielding side Hawk-Eye showed the ball going too high. Pakistan's lead was 168 and England had not got the break they desperately needed. Andrew Strauss, an England captain with no time to waste, even took the new ball two overs before the close.

Younis' second 50 took 60 balls and changed the complexion of the match. His gathering confidence was illustrated when he twice reverse-swept Swann as England's spinners resorted to bowling into the rough outside leg stump. Two short balls from Panesar helped him through the 90s. When he swept Panesar to reach his 20th Test hundred, two greats of India's past, Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev, were moved to rise from their seats in the VIP area and applaud.

But the incident that will most trouble England was one of the rare balls Younis missed: a delivery from Panesar that pitched on middle, dislodged a piece of turf as it spun past the outside edge, and cracked Anderson on the left shoulder at first slip. This is a dry pitch and it can be expected to turn extravagantly as the match progresses.

Smart stats

  • The unbeaten 194-run stand between Younis Khan and Azhar Ali is the second-highest third-wicket stand for Pakistan against England in Tests. It is surpassed only by the 363-run stand between Younis and Mohammad Yousuf at Leeds in 2006.
  • The partnership is the fourth century stand of the series and the highest in the series. Three of the four century stands have come for Pakistan.
  • The third-wicket stand between Younis and Azhar is also the fourth highest for any wicket in matches played in the UAE. The highest is 242 between Hashim Amla and Jacques Kallis in Dubai in 2010.
  • Younis' century, the first of the series, is his 20th in Tests and second against England. Only Inzamam-ul-Haq, Yousuf and Javed Miandad are above Younis on the list of Pakistan batsmen with the most Test centuries. It is also his fourth century in 12 matches played in the UAE.
  • Azhar Ali's half-century is his 14th in 21 Tests and his third against England. He has now scored 1429 runs at an average of 42.02.

It all possessed a different feel to the pre-lunch session. Six more wickets tumbled on the second morning, with England scraping a first-innings lead of 42 and then removing Pakistan's openers. Taufeeq Umar's technical frailties were again evident as James Anderson bowled one from wide on the crease to have him caught by Strauss at first slip. Mohammad Hafeez, after striking Panesar cleanly for a straight six, fell lbw to an over-ambitious sweep.

England's batting frailties are now so extreme that their average of 17.84 runs per wicket is currently lower than in any completed series since the 19th century, an era when the roller was probably pulled by a horse, if they could find a horse, and the art of groundsmanship extended to little more than pushing the stumps in.

England began the series fretting about the mysterious spin bowling of Saeed Ajmal but they are ending it baffled by the conventional approach of Rehman, who took five wickets for the second successive innings as Pakistan restricted England's first-innings lead. This canny left-arm spinner, enjoying unforeseen riches in his late-blooming career, had performed the sajda on the outfield in Abu Dhabi when he took five Test wickets in an innings for the first time. Once again he fell to his knees.

England, resuming on 104 for 6, lasted 12 overs. Anderson, the night-watchman, propped forward to the last ball of the first over and was bowled through the gate. It was the sort of respectable, turning delivery Rehman has produced on countless occasions and suddenly it looked unplayable.

Stuart Broad hinted at positive intent but he was lbw to Ajmal after Pakistan turned to DRS to overturn Steve Davis' not-out decision. Broad was straight back to the laptop, analysing his dismissal, seeking answers. Another centimetre and he would have been outside the line. Umpires would never give anybody out on such small margins; technology does.

Andrew Strauss' prolonged resistance ended at eight-down, to his most adventurous shot. He had extended his overnight 41 to 56 when he came down the pitch to hit Rehman over the legside and was stumped by Adnan Akmal.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by 5wombats on (February 5, 2012, 14:02 GMT)

@SaeedKhanNiazi on (February 05 2012, 05:55 AM GMT) - A VERY FINE POST from you - kudos my friend. Have to say - from an England fans perspective, there have not been many over the top comms from Pakistan fans. Most of the problems are from "fans" of a country that is not involved in this series..... BTW - Brilliant played by Pakistan.

Posted by JG2704 on (February 5, 2012, 11:11 GMT)

@G.Sri on (February 05 2012, 02:46 AM GMT) Not trying to stir it there by any chance? Personally I prefer an amicable environment and by and large between the 2 sets of fans it has been that. Obviously neither nation can control how media etc behaves , but unless folk post unconstructive rubbish aimed at England , I see no reason why I shouldn't do try to keep it all cordial.

Posted by JG2704 on (February 5, 2012, 11:10 GMT)

@Hodra99 on (February 04 2012, 23:37 PM GMT) Well then begin your celebrations now then if you've already decided that's what will happen

Posted by JG2704 on (February 5, 2012, 11:10 GMT)

@gunnerr4life on (February 04 2012, 21:38 PM GMT) Guessing by your user name that you were happy about one result yesterday. It is unfortunate that so many fans from that country have decided to take this course of (a la stalking) action although I'm trying not to tar them all with the same brush. It is generally speaking the same people - 2 from Oz - and the rest from.. There have been a few really nice Indians on Eng related threads. I do agree with your comms by and large. Not sure what would happen when Eng tour Ind. Alot can happen in the forthcoming months. The SL tour will tell us more , whether it's a Pak thing or a SC thing.

Posted by JG2704 on (February 5, 2012, 11:10 GMT)

@Posted by on (February 04 2012, 21:36 PM GMT) Appreciate your comms as I do any that are constructive.I would actually say our bowling unit is better than good. Our batsmen have by and large been scared and had they not have been so feeble in the 2nd inns of the last test I believe - despite Paks decent pressure bowling - that we'd have won that game and going into this game all square might have raised confidence - and I don't mean to take anything away from Pak who fought like tigers. I wouldn't criticise England for desire to win but just that their batsmen seem mentally psyched by Pakistan and the selectors are unwilling to change things in that dept. Continuity can be a great thing but also it can be harmful, Bell was dropped a few years ago and came back a better player. Now Bell and Morgan look to be in that mode and I feel that playing both is more likely to destroy them than anything

Posted by JG2704 on (February 5, 2012, 11:10 GMT)

@5wombats on (February 04 2012, 21:00 PM GMT) Thanks for good comms. I literally echo many of yours but they often don't get through.

Posted by JG2704 on (February 5, 2012, 11:09 GMT)

@Posted by on (February 04 2012, 20:25 PM GMT) Barmy Army are mainly test viewers anyway so they almost certainly wouldn't watch the ODIs regardless. England need freshening up for these matches. I would like to have seen Broad and Anderson given a go but I'd rather see them rested as our stupid selectors have put them through too much by not giving them an extra paceman to share the workload. I'm also worried that Morgan's selection when not playing well in the tests might affect his form in the ODIs.

Posted by JG2704 on (February 5, 2012, 10:26 GMT)

@ Peterincanada on (February 04 2012, 16:37 PM GMT) - Not crying in my beer. Not crying at all , but it would take a miracle for England to win from here and even if Pak declared right now I still think they'd win. England need to mentally rebuild and as an England fan I hope that facing a new bunch of players will be akin to starting fresh again and they'll regain some positivity. Right now I feel that If it was a 5 match series , Pak would win all 5.

Posted by JG2704 on (February 5, 2012, 10:26 GMT)

@ darsh127 on (February 04 2012, 16:39 PM GMT) Funny how you're trying to bring India's OD achievements into the equation. It's Pakistan's glory - nothing to do with India or any other side. India are too busy getting trounced in tests away from home. 2 away 4 test Whitewashes in a row , half of them by an innings. England have been awful and I'm ashamed of their form but even in this - the worst form by far under Flower's reign - it is dwarfed by India's away form. If we lose 2-0 to SL as well we'll be 3 tests behind your guys in the rubbish stakes.

Posted by   on (February 5, 2012, 9:27 GMT)

@G.Sri bang batting better than Paks ??? not sure why you are bigging up india on this article? mate even indias batting was almost always better than Pakistans but we won more tests against them so What does it matter if pakistan dont have the batting its the bowling that wins you matchs and thats our stregnth....we have people goshling for postions even with retirements.... most indian fans have been talking about this series without trying to bring up there team but if it makes you feel better....

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David Hopps David Hopps joined ESPNcricinfo as UK editor early in 2012. For the previous 20 years he was a senior cricket writer for the Guardian and covered England extensively during that time in all Test-playing nations. He also covered four Olympic Games and has written several cricket books, including collections of cricket quotations. He has been an avid amateur cricketer since he was 12, and so knows the pain of repeated failure only too well. The pile of untouched novels he plans to read, but rarely gets around to, is now almost touching the ceiling. He divides his time between the ESPNcricinfo office in Hammersmith and his beloved Yorkshire.
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