Pakistan v England, 2nd Twenty20, Dubai February 25, 2012

Too short or too wide?

ESPNcricinfo presents the Plays of the Day for the 2nd Twenty20 international between England and Pakistan in Dubai

Run-out of the day
Perhaps Samit Patel was just unlucky. Saeed Ajmal's superb direct hit from deep backward square leg might well have beaten many of the England players attempting a quick second run. It is hardly unusual for a batsman to be run out in limited-overs cricket, after all. When Patel is involved, however, the issue of his weight and his fitness are always going to be brought into the equation. Might he have turned quicker, run faster or dived to reach his ground? Maybe. But in truth, Patel's dismissal was probably more due to his lack of height - and consequently reach - than his girth.

Struggle of the day
Make no mistake, Awais Zia's six off Steven Finn was a marvellous shot: a full-blooded thump over long-on off the fastest bowler in the match. The problem was, that shot was the exception. By the time Zia slogged to mid-off, he had had scored 6 from 12 balls - meaning all his runs had come from one shot and he had swung and, generally, missed at 11 more. It was only Zia's second innings in international cricket, so perhaps it is premature to draw too many conclusions. But it was hard to avoid the conclusion he has been horribly exposed at this level.

Boundary of the day
After Jonny Bairstow's struggles in the first match - he failed to find the boundary in 21 balls at the crease - it was telling that he produced a flowing drive over extra-cover from just his fourth delivery here that sped to the boundary. Invited to drive by a relatively flighted delivery from Shahid Afridi, Bairstow showed no signs of any lingering lack of confidence as he came down the pitch and drove over the infield. It was a well-placed and well-executed stroke that was to prove the preface to a substantially improved innings that played a huge part in England's victory. Many players will struggle when confronted with such conditions and such bowlers for the first time: the fact that Bairstow appears to learn quickly bodes well for his - and England's - future.

Dismissal of the day
Might Jos Buttler be falling into the same sort of trap that once ensnared Mal Loye? Loye, a batsman with a full array of strokes, earned a reputation as an audacious slog-sweeper of even the quickest bowlers, but sometimes seemed so intent on playing the stroke that he missed out on opportunities to play far easier and, in many circumstances, more effective strokes. So it might be with Buttler's paddle; the stroke where he steps across so he is outside the off stump and tries to guide the ball very fine down the leg side. It is a shot he has utilised with great success in domestic cricket, but against a bowler as skilful as Umar Gul, it is proving a high risk selection. This was the second time in the two T20Is Buttler has perished attempting it. Here Gul, starting a three-over spell in the 16th over to benefit from the reverse swing, found just enough movement in the air to unbalance Buttler and, with his penetrating full length, provide the batsmen with no margin for error.

Contrast of the day
It was the contrast that was most marked. Having just watched his captain, Misbah-ul-Haq, struggle to hit the ball off the square and score one from four balls, Shahid Afridi immediately responded with an enormous six that carried into the second tier of the stadium. He bludgeoned two more fours later in the same over to underline Misbah's struggle for fluency. It would have mattered little to most of those watching that Graeme Swann was bowling to Misbah and Patel to Afridi: for his adoring crowd, this was proof that Afridi was the hero Pakistan require.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo