Monday, 26 October 2015

Review of the 2nd Test v Pakistan

So near and yet so far, was the story of this Test as Adil Rashid almost salvaged a draw from the jaws of certain defeat in Dubai. For some of England's players this might be more Bye Bye than Dubai as a couple of them look shot to pieces, but if truth be told it was only one bad session that cost the visitors here. Whether that elicits a knee jerk reaction or whether the selectors will keep faith with the likes of Bell and Buttler remains to be seen? Like Abu Dhabi, this one went down to the wire, but unlike Abu Dhabi the Living Daylights couldn't save the draw. No Skyfall or even nightfall here in Dubai...

Another soulless ground in the week that the James Bond film Spectre hits our screens just in time for Hallowe'en. Pakistan brought back in Goldfinger Yasir Shah, but skipper Misbah was the man with the Golden Gun as his willow eked out 102 runs in the Pakistani total of 378. Moeen Ali and Mark Wood picked up three wickets apiece in a workmanlike performance by the English bowling.

Then in response apart from Joe Root again with an eighty odd and skipper Cook with 65, the rest of the batting was a disgrace. This is a young English team, and one that will make mistakes but there were some shockers here as we lost our last seven wickets for a measly thirty six runs. Firstly Moeen Ali is not an opening bat. Stick Muhammed Ali, Monica Ali or even Bill Alley up there but not Mo, please. Ali may have floated like a butterfly up and down the batting order for his country but give him a position and stick with it. Secondly if Ian Bell was James Bond he would be the man who only lives a hundred times, the amount of chances that he has had. Dale Steyn must be looking forward to having a Licence to Kill. Buttler looks shaken, stirred and it could well be time that the selectors pulled him out of the firing line in Her Majesty's Public Service.

England's number 007

England gave Pakistan a lead of 130 odd, something fatal in sub-continental conditions where chasing the game in the fourth knock is notoriously difficult. Wahab Riaz and Shah got four apiece from the hosts.

When Pakistan batted again two early wickets gave England hope but Younis Khan and Misbah made life a misery for England and set them just shy of 500 to win.

Cook and Ali went early but Bell at least fought hard for his international future. Wahab Riaz caused a storm by booting the ball in from the boundary in an effort to try and gain some reverse schwing as Sean Connery would say. Let's just say he has the touch of Emile Heskey with the boot, albeit the touch of genius with the art of reverse swing. Root got a seventy, but on the last day when he was out and then Bairstow played all around a Yasir Shah googly the end was nigh. Stokes was referred to as the 'Angry Man' as the Pakistani close fielders took the piss out of him and England's number 007 Buttler scored 007. Broad was done by a Riaz thunderball.

A view to Adil

Just as it looked over enter Adil Rashid. He and Mark Wood made Pakistan fight and fight, and bowl and bowl. They have never bowled more overs in a fourth innings of a Test match. England entered the last hour thinking they might just get away with a draw as Yasir and Zulfiqar Babar got through nearly ninety overs between them. Pakistan could see nothing more than a view to Adil. Wood perished but Jimmy came in with eleven overs left. Rashid had showed a mixture of dour Yorkshire grit and sub-continental heritage with the ability to play the turning ball, but when he chipped to cover it was game over.

Pakistan fully deserved to win this and if they win the third one in Sharjah then they jump to second in the world rankings. This would be a remarkable achievement from a side who can't play at home due to terrorism, whose players are shunned by the IPL and who came off the pitch to learn that their country had been shaken by another earthquake. In Yasir Shah and Wahab Riaz they have two fine bowlers. They have triumphed in the face of adversity and were the better side for virtually all of this game.


England weren't that bad, save for that awful session. Cook looks to be moving like Inzamam on the dance floor and there are doubts about his fitness for Sharjah which starts on Sunday. Bell could well get yet another chance but Buttler needs to be taken out of the firing line. He is a decent player so let's look after him. As Geoffrey Boycott said, "England have two world class bats and two world class bowlers, but that doesn't make a Test side".

They might be the words of a famous gritty Yorkshire batsman, but another one nearly pulled off a remarkable draw here.

In the desert of Dubai, the sands of time may have run out for a couple of the English players.

1 comment:

  1. It was, as Waqar said, a cracking test match, and there's no doubt England lost it during that batting collapse third morning. I agree that Buttler has to have a rest, so give Bairstow the gloves (and move him down a slot: his teckneeq (as Sir G would say) isn't that great at test level). Move Moeen to 5, and get Hales (who is a specialist opener) to open with Cook. I'd put Taylor in for Ian Bell too, but that's probably a step too far for the selectors. Talking (as you did briefly) of South Africa, it looks like they've found another quality pace bowler in Kagiso Rabada. 150kph bouncers rattling the Indian top order on a flat deck in Mumbai: won't be long before he plays test cricket.