Pakistan v England, 3rd Test, Dubai, 3rd day February 5, 2012

Azhar's perfect patience

ESPNcricinfo presents the Plays of the Day from the third day of the third Tes between Pakistan and England in Dubai
21

Milestone of the day
It was not particularly pretty and it was not particularly exhilarating but Azhar Ali's innings was, in many ways, a perfect example of the patience, concentration and technique required to prosper at this level. This was how Test cricket used to be played: hard and attritional, with determination and concentration assuming greater importance than flair or panache. Azhar's relief on reaching his century - just his second in Tests despite having passed 50 on 15 occasions - was palpable. After cutting a boundary off Monty Panesar to reach three figures, he fell to his knees to give thanks and kissed the pitch. It did not matter which side you supported, it was impossible not to be pleased for him.

Drop of the day
Had Taufeeq Umar, at third slip, clung on to a relatively straightforward chance offered by Alastair Cook in just the third over of England's second innings, the tourists would have been four for one and left facing an awkward last hour. As it was Taufeeq, who has endured a disappointing game, put down the chance off the unfortunate Umar Gul. The England pair went on to record their highest opening partnership of the series - previously 27 at Abu Dhabi - and sustain their side's slim hopes of achieving England's highest fourth-innings run chase since 1928-29.

Shot of the day
Younis Khan's masterful innings did not extend too long into the third morning but, before he departed, he provided an echo of his sumptuous batting the previous day. There was little wrong with the delivery from James Anderson - pretty much on a good length and challenging Younis to play outside the off stump - but such was Younis' form and skill that he used his long reach to drive beautifully through the covers. It was the shot of a very fine batsmen in the best of form. There has not been anything better this match.

Ball of the day
Monty Panesar's rehabilitation continues. Two games into his Test comeback and he has his second five-wicket haul; this time clinched when Umar Gul missed a leg side heave and fell lbw. Panesar's unaffected joy is a delight to witness, but his success does leave England with a dilemma. When they revert to an attack that includes just one spinner, they have to decide whether Panesar has done enough to displace Swann - who's taken one five-wicket haul in his last 13 Tests. While Swann's superior batting and reliable slip catching provides him with a substantial advantage, England might also bear in mind the make-up of opposition sides. Should they contain several left-handers Swann should be preferred but if they are packed with raight-handers, Panesar must come into consideration.

Memory of the day
In the last over before the close, a moment evokes memories of England's Dunkirk moment at Cardiff in 2009 when the last pair, James Anderson and Monty Panesar called for new gloves with moments to go to kill as much time as possible. Here, England's openers, desperate to avoid facing an extra over, took a fresh guard, retied their shoe laces, looked around the field to ensure they understood where every fielder was lurking and then decided to catalogue their CD collection. They wasted every moment they could. Umar Gul, illustrating a nice line in irony and realising that enough time had elapsed to rule out any chance of an extra over, then held up the bowler - Abdur Rehman - to tie his own laces. Even Andy Flower smiled.

Quote of the day
Graeme Swann when asked about the likely make-up England's ODI squad: "After the way we played in India, I'd pick anyone rather than the XI who played there."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • satish619chandar on February 6, 2012, 8:58 GMT

    Pure class.. No other word to describe Pakistan's middle order batting.. Collapse is bound to occur on such a track.. Kudos to England for coming back strongly and give themselves a sniff on the target rather than just waiting for things to be done by Pakistan themselves.. Absolutely loved every bit of this test even if the runrate is far lower than what u see these days but in terms of class grit and fight, certainly one of the best series ever!!

  • DINESHCC on February 6, 2012, 7:26 GMT

    Had he played such type of innings for India, by this time 2000 comments would have come praisnig that he is the future of Indian Cricket and will break the records of Dravid (I do not want to quote Sachin's name).

  • on February 6, 2012, 5:41 GMT

    @Adeel Syed yea sure man but cant find the like button..... :)

  • donda on February 6, 2012, 4:52 GMT

    Azhar ali is an awesome test batsman , he is from the school of hanif muhammad and shoaib muhammad. Both were successful in test for pakistan.

    4 days were left and this guy showed how to play a test match when time does not matter at all. All batsmen in the world learn from this new guy.

    Players like Azhar ali may save the test cricket before it die. Azhar ali and Umar Akmal are completely opposite batsmen. Good to have both of them in one team.

    What a great effort against world #1 and spending 1.5 days on pitch. Awesome.

  • munibkhan on February 6, 2012, 4:51 GMT

    Downside of Azhar's innings: give Michael Clarke that many deliveries and he'd score a triple-ton!!! Pakistan could have used at least another 50-odd runs.

  • SRT_GENIUS on February 6, 2012, 4:13 GMT

    @rahulcricket007 : Maybe you can complain without the caps lock key for a change ? Reading all-caps is so harsh on the eyes, I just skip your comments most of the times. (Did not skip this time, as it was a 1 liner).

  • on February 6, 2012, 2:23 GMT

    Western authors, please understand Pakistani players don't kiss the pitch, they thank God and perform Sajda to God.

  • siabbasi on February 6, 2012, 1:41 GMT

    Perfect TEST Innings. Class patience. Being a Test cricket fan, loving test match. Bowl vs Bat action is impressive. Carry on and let the day 4 begin. Green Carpet!! Plus, Sajda clarifications are appreciated! To add: Bowing down as an act of thank you = Sajda & it is not kissing the ground. Play well.

  • on February 5, 2012, 23:39 GMT

    Great entertainment by England and Pakistan, I have hardly seen such drama in cricket where biggest players were umpire, DRS and LBW's. I believe if DRS show wicket is even touched slightly player should be given out regardless to Umpires decision as it is very unfair for the bowler. Although, end of the day it should be entertainment. I am a Pakistani but now I am a fan of Strouse, he is very sensible player and great captain like his counter Misbah. Thanks to Yunis for showing how to play perfect cricket properly. Congratulation for Azhar Ali for his great defense . I think Azhar Ali is one of the world's most defensive players as he grows up he would be scoring like Yunis or Tendlkar. I am surprised how the English players' never gave up. They are still number one team in my books lost two matches because they are aggressive to score a boundaries rather than singles and two's like Azha did it.r

  • wrenx on February 5, 2012, 23:24 GMT

    @Nutcutlet Well said, I'l certainly remember the conduct and the spirit of the men on the field far more than the result of the series. And Broad's been a lot better now that he's left his short-pitching, quasi-intimidating persona behind him and his playing to his potential.

  • satish619chandar on February 6, 2012, 8:58 GMT

    Pure class.. No other word to describe Pakistan's middle order batting.. Collapse is bound to occur on such a track.. Kudos to England for coming back strongly and give themselves a sniff on the target rather than just waiting for things to be done by Pakistan themselves.. Absolutely loved every bit of this test even if the runrate is far lower than what u see these days but in terms of class grit and fight, certainly one of the best series ever!!

  • DINESHCC on February 6, 2012, 7:26 GMT

    Had he played such type of innings for India, by this time 2000 comments would have come praisnig that he is the future of Indian Cricket and will break the records of Dravid (I do not want to quote Sachin's name).

  • on February 6, 2012, 5:41 GMT

    @Adeel Syed yea sure man but cant find the like button..... :)

  • donda on February 6, 2012, 4:52 GMT

    Azhar ali is an awesome test batsman , he is from the school of hanif muhammad and shoaib muhammad. Both were successful in test for pakistan.

    4 days were left and this guy showed how to play a test match when time does not matter at all. All batsmen in the world learn from this new guy.

    Players like Azhar ali may save the test cricket before it die. Azhar ali and Umar Akmal are completely opposite batsmen. Good to have both of them in one team.

    What a great effort against world #1 and spending 1.5 days on pitch. Awesome.

  • munibkhan on February 6, 2012, 4:51 GMT

    Downside of Azhar's innings: give Michael Clarke that many deliveries and he'd score a triple-ton!!! Pakistan could have used at least another 50-odd runs.

  • SRT_GENIUS on February 6, 2012, 4:13 GMT

    @rahulcricket007 : Maybe you can complain without the caps lock key for a change ? Reading all-caps is so harsh on the eyes, I just skip your comments most of the times. (Did not skip this time, as it was a 1 liner).

  • on February 6, 2012, 2:23 GMT

    Western authors, please understand Pakistani players don't kiss the pitch, they thank God and perform Sajda to God.

  • siabbasi on February 6, 2012, 1:41 GMT

    Perfect TEST Innings. Class patience. Being a Test cricket fan, loving test match. Bowl vs Bat action is impressive. Carry on and let the day 4 begin. Green Carpet!! Plus, Sajda clarifications are appreciated! To add: Bowing down as an act of thank you = Sajda & it is not kissing the ground. Play well.

  • on February 5, 2012, 23:39 GMT

    Great entertainment by England and Pakistan, I have hardly seen such drama in cricket where biggest players were umpire, DRS and LBW's. I believe if DRS show wicket is even touched slightly player should be given out regardless to Umpires decision as it is very unfair for the bowler. Although, end of the day it should be entertainment. I am a Pakistani but now I am a fan of Strouse, he is very sensible player and great captain like his counter Misbah. Thanks to Yunis for showing how to play perfect cricket properly. Congratulation for Azhar Ali for his great defense . I think Azhar Ali is one of the world's most defensive players as he grows up he would be scoring like Yunis or Tendlkar. I am surprised how the English players' never gave up. They are still number one team in my books lost two matches because they are aggressive to score a boundaries rather than singles and two's like Azha did it.r

  • wrenx on February 5, 2012, 23:24 GMT

    @Nutcutlet Well said, I'l certainly remember the conduct and the spirit of the men on the field far more than the result of the series. And Broad's been a lot better now that he's left his short-pitching, quasi-intimidating persona behind him and his playing to his potential.

  • Q72941 on February 5, 2012, 22:37 GMT

    Azhar's inning was like Ali vs Foreman, tiring up the opposition towards mental degradation & frustration. Test Cricket as the name implies may be boring for some to watch but definitely is like a fine game of Chess, enjoyable to those who really appreciate it. Hope to see some fine Test matches onward.

  • 5wombats on February 5, 2012, 21:11 GMT

    Great Innings by Azhar Ali & Younis Khan. Bravo. Good to see batsmen who know what they are doing on these pitches. Have to hope that England batsmen can learn from their example. Good stuff again from Monty - love this guy's spirit!

  • on February 5, 2012, 19:20 GMT

    Why does CricInfo not understand that the Pakistani players are not kissing the turf. There is no smooching going on. They are making a sajdah which is bowing before God. I see this incorrect statement of kissing the turf way too much and its wrong and needs to be corrected.

  • on February 5, 2012, 18:47 GMT

    England has not got any thing to loose,they should go for the target,they cannot survive 2 days just blocking the balls,the team management of England should realize that they have the batting power and if they do not block the deliveries they would be able to score 288 runs in between 2 days,England should be taking all the short singles and rotate the strike on regular bases,this is the only way that they can compete against the Pakistani spinners.

    It will be a interesting contest to watch between bat and ball.

  • on February 5, 2012, 17:02 GMT

    A Good find for pak cricket.hope this talent could be saved :-/

  • known_stranger on February 5, 2012, 17:02 GMT

    After a long time, i have seen someone really playing a test match in forgotten test match style.He is a change in this fast pace cricketing world. for me playing a test match with patience is far difficult. Azhar reminded the world that they were watching a TEST match..:)

  • rahulcricket007 on February 5, 2012, 16:52 GMT

    HOW MANY TIMES I HAVE TO SAY THIS , IT;S NOT KISSING THE PITCH , IT'S SAJDA .

  • itzvinay on February 5, 2012, 16:01 GMT

    @cricinfo...What is 'Raight'-handers...the best in business should proofread once :)

  • Nutcutlet on February 5, 2012, 15:33 GMT

    I loved Umar Gul's sense of occasion when he tied his own laces after Cook had tied his! Not the least commendable aspect of this series has been the spirit in which it has been played - tough and competitive, of course, but without the ugly histrionics, abuse and spoilt-brat scowls that have been seen too often in the recent past (and I am not necessarily referring to English or Pakistani cricketers). For this, both of the captains must take enormous credit. Btw, now Stuart Broad has got his temper under control, hasn't he moved up several notches as a test cricketer? His career goes from strength to strength and I firmly believe that he is the premier fast bowling all rounder in world cricket at the moment.

  • on February 5, 2012, 15:17 GMT

    One thing I'd like to clarify (hopefully politely), when Pakistanis (or Muslims in general) fall to their knees after reaching milestones, they do not kiss the ground but thank the Lord (Allah) for His blessings and guidance. I've heard quite a few people referring to it and just thought I'd clarify it. Thanks.

  • on February 5, 2012, 14:52 GMT

    Azhar Ali,, old fashioned test inning quite impressive

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • on February 5, 2012, 14:52 GMT

    Azhar Ali,, old fashioned test inning quite impressive

  • on February 5, 2012, 15:17 GMT

    One thing I'd like to clarify (hopefully politely), when Pakistanis (or Muslims in general) fall to their knees after reaching milestones, they do not kiss the ground but thank the Lord (Allah) for His blessings and guidance. I've heard quite a few people referring to it and just thought I'd clarify it. Thanks.

  • Nutcutlet on February 5, 2012, 15:33 GMT

    I loved Umar Gul's sense of occasion when he tied his own laces after Cook had tied his! Not the least commendable aspect of this series has been the spirit in which it has been played - tough and competitive, of course, but without the ugly histrionics, abuse and spoilt-brat scowls that have been seen too often in the recent past (and I am not necessarily referring to English or Pakistani cricketers). For this, both of the captains must take enormous credit. Btw, now Stuart Broad has got his temper under control, hasn't he moved up several notches as a test cricketer? His career goes from strength to strength and I firmly believe that he is the premier fast bowling all rounder in world cricket at the moment.

  • itzvinay on February 5, 2012, 16:01 GMT

    @cricinfo...What is 'Raight'-handers...the best in business should proofread once :)

  • rahulcricket007 on February 5, 2012, 16:52 GMT

    HOW MANY TIMES I HAVE TO SAY THIS , IT;S NOT KISSING THE PITCH , IT'S SAJDA .

  • known_stranger on February 5, 2012, 17:02 GMT

    After a long time, i have seen someone really playing a test match in forgotten test match style.He is a change in this fast pace cricketing world. for me playing a test match with patience is far difficult. Azhar reminded the world that they were watching a TEST match..:)

  • on February 5, 2012, 17:02 GMT

    A Good find for pak cricket.hope this talent could be saved :-/

  • on February 5, 2012, 18:47 GMT

    England has not got any thing to loose,they should go for the target,they cannot survive 2 days just blocking the balls,the team management of England should realize that they have the batting power and if they do not block the deliveries they would be able to score 288 runs in between 2 days,England should be taking all the short singles and rotate the strike on regular bases,this is the only way that they can compete against the Pakistani spinners.

    It will be a interesting contest to watch between bat and ball.

  • on February 5, 2012, 19:20 GMT

    Why does CricInfo not understand that the Pakistani players are not kissing the turf. There is no smooching going on. They are making a sajdah which is bowing before God. I see this incorrect statement of kissing the turf way too much and its wrong and needs to be corrected.

  • 5wombats on February 5, 2012, 21:11 GMT

    Great Innings by Azhar Ali & Younis Khan. Bravo. Good to see batsmen who know what they are doing on these pitches. Have to hope that England batsmen can learn from their example. Good stuff again from Monty - love this guy's spirit!