|Atmospheric Abu Dhabi|
Pakistan batted and early on Shan Masood was bowled via the grille of his helmet by Jimmy. This brought in the returning Shoaib Malik and he batted, and batted and batted. Then he batted some more. Despite losing his partner Mohammed Hafeez for just two shy of a hundred, on and on he went, taking a particular liking to the leg spin of debutant Adil Rashid. Younus Khan then came and broke Javed Miandad's record for runs scored for Pakistan. Pakistan cricket has been through difficult times in recent years, and the longevity of Younus has been a bright light during some dark times for this proud nation. Not flashy or full of shots; a Saeed Anwar he is most definitely not, he grinds runs out like the very best of them and fully deserves all of the accolades thrown at him.
|Don't dye for Ramiz...he's got henna|
If anyone is thinking about getting an England player a Christmas present then Ian Bell could do with a bib after spilling a couple in this game. Stuart Broad, like The Middle Stump during a boring Test, overstepped the mark. England taking another wicket with a no ball? Asif. Amir sixth one of the year, I believe. The Pakistani skipper got an odd one from the third umpire, as Misbah trudged off miserably.
Asad Shafiq came in and scored a hundred before Shoaib finally went on his way for 245. Rashid and Ali went for close to 300 off of just under sixty overs. No wickets were taken by spinners although Stokes picked up four. Pakistan declared on 523-8.
|Javed Miandad finds he has lost his record as Pakistan's leading run scorer|
For England, Cook and Ali opened up. For Pakistan they had Ali and Babar whilst the forty thieves were at Southwark Crown Court in London at the Chris Cairns trial. Cook then batted...and batted...and batted. Bell came in and was as scratchy as Malcolm McLaren mixing Double Dutch back in the eighties. Root kept Cook company for a while but it was the Essex man, with a funky new boyband haircut who was relentless. It was a knock of sheer concentration and bloody mindedness and one straight out of the old school. I think I even saw him sweat at one point. Eventually he went for 263 after a mere 836 minutes at the crease and that was to a no ball. Cook drives and cuts so well, although rarely hooks. On this featherbed the ball didn't get up much to hook. Less Abu Hamza, more Abu Dhabi. Saying that Wahab Riaz bowled with pace and got a couple to reverse, accounting for Bairstow with one. Stokes got a fifty, Buttler fell to spin.
England eventually called it a day a couple shy of the 600 mark.
Just when you thought it was meandering to a draw, enter Adil Rashid. The first leg spinner to take a five wicket haul for England since 1959, he winkled out the Pakistan tail aided and abetted by some Lou Vincent-esque batting. Suddenly England needed 98 to win. Could they do it?
|"What do you mean, his shoelace has come undone again?"|
Despite the thrilling finale, wickets like this do nothing for Test cricket. When conditions are so far in favour of batsmen or bowler, it makes for crap cricket. Sabina Park got a bad press a few years back when the game got called off due to being too far in favour of the bowlers, and whilst this wasn't dangerous it made conditions so far in favour of the batting team that it was ridiculous. It was the worst Test match that I can remember for a long time, despite the conclusion. It makes you wonder whether UAE stands for Under Anaesthetic Experience? Let's hope Dubai produces a better wicket than the turgid, concrete one here or it will make even less people come to watch Test cricket. For four and a half days it was boring, it was dull and enough to cure insomnia. Yes we had a fantastic finish, but in the main this one was forgettable.
Unless your name is Alastair Cook, Younus Khan, Adil Rashid or Shoaib Malik.