If Anyone Khan, Younus Khan – Day 2 at The Oval

You can’t keep a champion down indefinitely. That’s what we learned today. Thus far this summer Younus Khan has batted like Bambi on ice. His footwork has been terrible. He seemed to be doing the charleston, the samba and some kind of Peshawar paso doble all at once.

However, today he looked a lot more comfortable at the crease. There were no extravagant movements, no jerks and a far less pronounced crouch as the bowler ran in. As a result we saw the real Younus Khan: the man who’s scored 30 test fifties and 31 test hundreds at an average of 53.

An in-form Younus makes an enormous difference to Pakistan’s batting. Alongside Mishab he’s been their lynchpin for years. When pundits predicted that the tourists would be a handful for England this summer, much of that was dependent on Pakistan’s best batsman contributing the big runs he’s famous for. Today he finally delivered.

The other star of today’s show was Asad Shafiq who got a pair at Edgbaston. Today couldn’t have been more different as he hit a enterprising hundred full of crisp strokes. Together with Azhar Ali, the impressive Shafiq batted Pakistan into an very good position. It soon became obvious that England would need to fight for every wicket – something of a contrast from Pakistan’s second innings in Birmingham.

The problem for England is that the pitch flattened out very nicely for the batsmen today. It certainly looked easier than yesterday when its green tinge resembled the diving pool in Rio. I wonder if Cook regretted his decision to bat first?

Although our bowlers toiled admirably throughout the day – once again Steve Finn charged in something like the Finn of old – England find themselves in a bit of a predicament. At 340-6 Pakistan are already 12 runs ahead. With Younus and Sarfraz still at the crease, the lead might approach triple figures by lunch.

On the other hand, England know that one wicket might well bring four. We’ve seen on many occasions than Pakistan’s tail is about as useful as a flat tyre. Tomorrow should be very interesting indeed. And it’s a good thing too because I have a ticket!

James Morgan


  • James, having just got back from one of the more difficult days at the cricket, one has to question the purpose and game plan of Pakistan. The day meandered along with no real ambition from either side (understandable for England) but some more urgency from Pak was much needed.
    England toiled admirably but i didn’t quite see the return of Finn as he continued to fall over in delivery stride time after time and must surely be under huge pressure from Wood or Rashid. That said.the bowlers worked hard but lacked that wicket taking threat.
    A baking hot day but at the same time one of the most downbeat joyless atmospheres I’ve experienced at the Oval for a long time. Thankfully some good old mates make the day a good un!

    • Sorry to hear it was so dead Yorkie. I thought Pakistan paced things reasonably well. Perhaps the lack of atmos was due to the home team struggling?

    • Pakistan scored 300 in a day right ? How is that bad?? If you want slap and tickle cricket go watch 2020/odi stuff. Tests aren’t about fast scoring rates, if they are something is wrong

      • Never mind, you completely missed the point. This isn’t about slap and tickle as you refer to it. Pakistan need to win this test and therefore needed to show more urgency and ambition. This isn’t always about boundaries but rotating the strike, turning ones into twos, two into threes etc.
        In the last test of a series with all to play for test cricket is about forcing a result.

  • Wood was hitting 90 – plus almost every ball in the T20 on Wednesday. Once he gets his full fitness back, if managed properly he’ll be a better bet than Finn – especially in Asia where his skiddy pace can take the slow pitches out of the equation.

    Think today also showed once and for all that Mo isn’t a reliable front line spinner – he keeps going at 5 an over and will be a weak link in India. He still has a future as a top 6 batsman and second spinner where required, but we need to look at other options – and with such a long batting line up we needn’t worry if he’s a genuine no 11.


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