Pakistan v England, 3rd Test, Dubai, 2nd day February 4, 2012

The DRS impact, and Azhar's promise

Plays of the day from the second day of the third Test between Pakistan and England in Dubai

Telling moment
In years gone by, it is highly unlikely that Stuart Broad would have been given out in the manner he was in England's first innings. Using his considerable height to stretch a long way forward, Broad would, almost certainly have enjoyed the benefit of any doubt despite Saeed Ajmal's doosra striking him on the pad.

Times have changed. Since the adoption of the DRS, batsmen using their pads to block the ball can no longer rely on any such benefits. Here, Broad was adjudged not out by the on-field umpire, only for Pakistan to review the decision and the ball-tracking technology to show that the ball hit in line and was going on to hit middle stump. So, does that represent progress? Or has the balance swung too far to the benefit of bowlers? It depends on your point of view. But the DRS has certainly changed the game.

Key moment
If England were to have any realistic chances of building a matchwinning position in their first innings, it was imperative that Andrew Strauss went on to make a significant contribution on day two. It was not to be. Despite battling hard, Strauss was nowhere near his best and, in trying to use his feet to the admirable Abdur Rehman, Strauss failed to reach the pitch, missed and was stumped. It had been a brave if somewhat torturous innings but, when he was ninth man out, England's last hopes of exploiting the fact that they had dismissed Pakistan for just 99, departed with him.

Shot of the day
It took Azhar Ali 17 balls to get off the mark and, after 39 balls, he had scored just two. Yet, unlike some of the England batsmen, he did not panic or fret over such a slow start. He remained patient in the knowledge that, eventually, the situation would ease and the runs would flow. When they did, he produced some fine shots. None were better than the deliciously-timed on-drive he played off Broad: barely more than a punch, but a stroke that sent the ball speeding to the boundary. It was the shot of a man who now appears to have the temperament, talent and technique to enjoy a long international career.

Class of the day
There is little room for sentiment in international cricket these days. It is a hard and often prosaic business and the days when fielders applaud an opposition player's century may well be coming to an end. So it was telling that every one of the England team joined in the ovation when Younis Khan reached his 20th Test century. As well they might. This was an innings that oozed class. Some of his strokes - his on-drive, sweep and late-cuts all stand out - illustrated batting at its very best and have given his side a wonderful opportunity to secure a 3-0 whitewash of the No. 1 ranked Test team. Every one of England's players applauded when Younis left the field at the end of the day, too. He deserved it.

Warning sign
Azhar and Younis had batted in increasing comfort in the evening session. Their stand was worth 142, Pakistan's lead was worth 128 and the pair were milking the bowling with an ease not seen at any previous stage this series. Suddenly, however, Monty Panesar persuaded one to turn and bounce sharply, beating Younis outside the off stump. While it might momentarily have encouraged the bowlers, the long-term ramifications were far less promising from an England perspective. Bearing in mind their frailty against spin and that they have to bat fourth, it was a ball that should have had the blood of their batsmen running cold.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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