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
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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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dummy4fb on February 5, 2012, 7:33 GMT

    I thought cricket was a contest between bat and ball. The pad is meant to protect the legs of the batsman. It should never become a factor in its straight forward contest.

    I had always propagated the use of the DRS. Initially my idea was that it would give the lesser ranked teams some modicum of fairness from the umpires. I had watched the umpires most of the time give decisions in favour of the more established teams over and over again.

    DRS will become a very positive influence on the game, this I firmly believe.

  • Kangroos.Proteas.Monkeys.Lions on February 5, 2012, 6:48 GMT

    Younus and Azhar have shown that despite DRS swann is not deadly even on a pitch where spinners are the chief tormetors because it is all about the technique and mental toughness that is needed. Hopefully, other players will take some lead from this and stop blaming DRS. This system has improved decision making within its limitations and with some common sense by the players and umpires it can be improved to a great extent. In order to avoid excessive reviews teams can be given credit on saved reviews may be in terms of recalling a batsman etc. Ask gavasker.

  • Meety on February 5, 2012, 4:55 GMT

    @SRT_GENIUS X = 2.5 metres (& from what I understand increasing). @Altamash.Baig - I agree, I think most test purists want the battle between bat & ball, not pad & ball!

  • Street_Hawk on February 5, 2012, 2:56 GMT

    @Akbar: I think weighted avg. technique you suggested may work..I suggested it quite a while ago too..You could also have a test championship home and away basis with 3 test in each series and decide the rank based on that performance...You cannot get more points by defeating a stronger opposition ranked above you like ICC do it now..ICC have to assume all test playing nations at least of equal strength..also, all teams have to play same no. of matches...you can award bonus points for drawing or winning away like Champions league soccer but winning bonus should be way more than drawing that way people will try harder to win a test rather than drawing them by making flatter pitches

  • dummy4fb on February 4, 2012, 23:08 GMT

    @yorkshire-86 I'd agree with you on DRS. Umpires should still give it (Broad's stretch) as not out, and if you think you have a chance as a bowler, review it. Simple is that.

  • bohurupi on February 4, 2012, 22:57 GMT

    "So it was telling that every one of the England team joined in the ovation when Younis Khan reached his 20th Test century"-that's the spirit of cricket, that is how it differs from all other games-my heartfelt thanks and appreciation to all English players who have done this. let it be exemplary.

  • BravoBravo on February 4, 2012, 22:40 GMT

    The best part of this match so far is the ovation by ENG players to Younis Khan's century. ENG team, you are a beauty. You don't offer excuses, you always recognize the good qualities about your opponents. You never make statements that vilify your opponents. ENG, you win or loose, you remain graceful. It make me think you will do very well in forthcoming series aginst SL and IND. PAK spin bowling has been a surprise for ENG batsmen. The 3rd test between ENG and PAK is still wide open, and it is going to be a very gripping match, third day is going to be a blockbuster. I am really enjoying this series as compared to the sorry-state of mismatches during ENG vs IND and AUS vs IND series. Good luck to both teams.

  • Sal2011 on February 4, 2012, 22:32 GMT

    George, LBW is for when the ball was going to hit the stumps and did all the other right things of which the point of impact in terms of the distance on the pitch does not matter. If technology can help the umpire(s) better judge LBW decisions with the given criteria, so much the better. The technology also clearly does not distinguish between bowler and batters. Batters can also use it to their advantage, for example if Trott had called for a review of his LBW. Don't blame the technology in lazy journalism. And I still think Eng has as good a chance of winning this match as Pak, as long as they keep the lead under 280.

  • Alphabaig on February 4, 2012, 21:35 GMT

    I always thoiught padding was the most boring thing in test Cricket. Now, DRS is going to change that. It will teach the batsman to play straight and play with the bat rather than the pad. Those who will fail to learn will find it very very difficult.

  • dummy4fb on February 4, 2012, 21:16 GMT

    GO PAKISTAN!! Team Misbah FTW!

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