After four largely drab days, the first Test between Pakistan and England took a cataclysmic turn for the hosts
After four largely drab days, the first Test between Pakistan and England took a cataclysmic turn for the hosts as they almost handed a most unlikely win to the tourists despite posting a monumental first-innings score. The last day of the Test belonged to England leg-spinner Adil Rashid, with the debutant running through Pakistan’s middle and lower order in a woeful second-innings display by Misbahul Haq’s charges. In the end, Pakistan were only saved by poor light, but they know well that they have some serious questions to answer before the second Test starts on October 22. In Yasir Shah’s absence, the bowling attack appeared toothless. With the exception of Wahab Riaz, others, including left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar, lacked the penetration needed on the lifeless Abu Dhabi pitch.
The bowlers’ variations looked inadequate against the patience and resolve of England batsmen led brilliantly by Alastair Cook, whose monumental effort overshadowed Shoaib Malik’s scarcely believable comeback to Test cricket. Malik’s 245 was a stunning effort despite the placid nature of the pitch. Azhar Ali’s withdrawal from the Dubai Test now adds more responsibility on Malik’s shoulders, who exceeded expectations in his first Test in five years. The one heartwarming feature of the Abu Dhabi game was Younus Khan becoming Pakistan’s highest run-scorer in Tests surpassing Javed Miandad’s tally. The legendary batsman showed glimpses of his brilliance but will be hoping to score more substantially in the remaining two games after failing to capitalise on useful starts in Abu Dhabi. Pakistan now need to approach the second Test with a positive game plan. Yasir’s return will add sting to the bowling attack and he will have to play a vital role if the hosts are to record a second successive series win against England in the UAE. The batsmen have received a major wake-up call and cannot afford to take England spinners for granted. Hopefully, the pitch in Dubai would be a more sporting one than the lifeless track encountered in Abu Dhabi. Sadly, it’s surfaces like these that keep crowds away from Test cricket.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 20th, 2015.
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