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

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

  • Satish 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!!

  • DINESH 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).

  • Dummy4 on February 6, 2012, 5:41 GMT

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

  • Sialkoti 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.

  • Munib 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.

  • al 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).

  • Dummy4 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.

  • Saqib 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.

  • Dummy4 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

  • I 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.

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