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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Samuel on February 26, 2012, 16:42 GMT

    @CricketingStargazer and Simon_W - Bairstow's got a much better record than Morgan in first class cricket and if anything caught the eye more in that format. Yorkshire had an awful season in all forms of limited overs cricket (make that all forms of cricket full stop!) but in the championship he scored a couple of brilliant hundreds. I too would be tempted to get him into the test side because of that, but if we see a couple of flat pitches in Sri Lanka (which we might after what happened to them against Australia in Galle) I think Bopara and Patel are ahead of him in the pecking order due to their bowling. Temperamentally though, I just think he's got what it takes, more so than Bopara. Morgan and Bopara have had several chances to impress, so I think it's about time we moved on and Barstow would be a good place to start!

  • Mark on February 26, 2012, 9:50 GMT

    simon_w, that's a big call and not a bad one. I'd be nervous though of doing what we did with Eoin Morgan and putting him straight in the Test side based on ODI and T20 performances. Middlesex were stunned when Morgan was elevated because he'd never really produced in the longer format and was in poor form and averaging about 25 (in Division 2!!!) at the time. Bairstow might just be the young guy to slip into the 16 and, if he fires in the warm-ups, take a punt on him. I tend to agree that Ravi Bopara is now unlikely to be a long-term solution and that we will probably jump a generation to one of Bairstow, Buttler, or Kieswetter in the Test side as the reserve batsman.

  • Master uv on February 26, 2012, 9:46 GMT

    I was at the stadium last night. Owais Zia played the same 4 shots (swing n fail x 4) fifth time got him out of his misery and put the Pak crowd in it :( The crowd went nuts to see the sight of Afridi. His sixer went the farthest of all. Too bad he aint a match winner :(

    The only good sight i can remember from the match was watching Umar Gul bowl :)))) and wave at KP fielding at 3rd man (he never replied lol)

  • Khawaja on February 26, 2012, 9:39 GMT

    well i think england should use their reserves to replace eoin and butler...not using reserves so teh team does not have to change is not good policy...u cant wait a whole year for a player to get going...pakistan seem to have a terrible shortage of reserves...not even a spare alrounder...i think they should bring in shehzad ahmed to open and at least select a wickekeeping alrounder rather than umar akmal who cant bat , bowl or keep wicket...if misbah wants to play steadily he should come in at three..obviously Owais has tobe explained how to swish at bowls that are not bowled straight...he should check the bowlers release to see if it is a slower delivery or not...

  • Mark on February 26, 2012, 8:58 GMT

    Buttler, will have a big future if he is treated the right way. There are going to be a lot of chances next summer to play ODIs, but England have very few T20 matches before the World T20 so, there comes a point where you have to cut your losses and go with someone else, short term, to win long term. Hopefully Jos Buttler will prove me wrong and have a storming performance in the 3rd T20, but you have to be reasonable with your expectatations. He needs just one decent innings to launch his career

  • Mark on February 26, 2012, 8:50 GMT

    TheHoneyMonster, to the contrary, I'm condemning no one. The reality is that Eoin Morgan's form and confidence is at rock bottom right now. He'll be much better served playng some games in CC1 and getting some form back. The last two of three games, as I said, he is looking perkier, but his magical ability to produce something from nothing has just gone. Pakistan, at least, have worked him out. 1, 3, 11, 24, 14, 3, 0, 10, 31, 2, 25*, 24*, 15, 14, 9. Those are his scores on this tour England did it to Andrew Strauss. They did it to Ian Bell. The did it to Craig Kieswetter. When a player is completely at sea and, especially as is Morgan, against his strongest suit, which is spin, you give the poor guy a break and let him work things out. Sri Lanka will attack him the same way. Middlesex will be playing cricket in Division 1 against Test-strength attacks, but with less pressure on him. Inside of destroying him permanently, give him a break and a chance to come back better.

  • Ravishankar on February 26, 2012, 7:27 GMT

    Pakistan need to find good batsmen. Afridi is just a poster boy. Very very disappointing. He just does not score enough

  • Simon on February 26, 2012, 6:54 GMT

    Agree with CricketingStargazer -- Morgan's place has to be under major pressure now. It seems likely that Bopara will start the Test series against Sri Lanka, but I have to admit I'd be tempted to bite the bullet and just get Bairstow straight in, to be honest. Have a look at his averages -- he's got the technique and the first-class record (unlike Morgan) and the temperament (unlike Bopara) to be a top Test player.

  • Dummy4 on February 26, 2012, 5:27 GMT

    Misbah is too old to play his shots in T20, he should retire from T20 cricket otherwise Pakistan will lose all their matches in this format..

  • Dummy4 on February 26, 2012, 4:20 GMT

    Our team without Kamran and Razzak is incomplete, bring them back. Zia was horrible, any school boy will connect 1 time out of 12 times.

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