I knew that grass was illegal in Dubai – a poor Brit was once jailed for having a microscopic grain of cannabis on the tread of his shoe – but this is getting ridiculous now. This pitch was supposed to have a bit more life. Did you see any evidence of that? Pakistan finished the first day of the first test on 286-4. This time they’re 282-4. Arrrggghhh.
Excuse my grumpy tone. I was really hoping for a better cricket wicket this time around. Of course this surface might deteriorate a little faster than the last one (in which case there’s still time for an interesting game to develop) but at this point someone needs to set up a charity for the poor bowlers. I’d certainly help out with a donation or too.
After watching today’s play I was severely tempted to just cut and paste one of my reports from last week. The pitch offered very little movement and was slower than a Jane Austin period drama. England’s bowlers toiled manfully but got very little reward.
The plan of rotating the bowlers frequently and giving them short spells was astute, but it’s still bloody hard work for all concerned – including the literally dozens of spectators at the stadium.
It must be heart-breaking for the likes of Broad, Stokes and Wood to charge in and bang the ball into the surface, only to watch it limp apologetically into Jos Buttler’s gloves. The word of the day was probably ‘limp’ or even ‘flaccid’. I can think of other words too but this is a family blog.
The pick of the seamers was probably James Anderson or Mark Wood. The former probed away like a doctor conducting a prostate examination – conducting a thankless task in as professional a manner as possible – but he only managed to claim the one wicket.
Mark Wood probed away like a less experienced but more enthusiastic doctor performing a prostate exam: he occasionally made the batsman wince in discomfort but still only claimed the one wicket. At least Younis Khan wasn’t sitting comfortably after facing him though.
Just like in Abu Dhabi our spinners also struggled a bit. Moeen claimed an early wicket but looked pretty toothless thereafter. I’ll spare you any dentist analogies at this juncture. Meanwhile Rashid bowled ok without threatening much. He ripped a googly into Misbah’s pads on one occasion (which was nice to see) but he didn’t quite do enough to claim a scalp. His time will come later in the match one suspects.
Talking of Misbah, the Pakistan captain was the start performer of the day. He looked unflustered throughout and thoroughly deserved his ton. It’s bizarre to think he’s older than Michael Vaughan and more than six years older than Kevin Pietersen. He’s not bad for a relative relic eh.
With Pakistan approaching three hundred for the loss of only four wickets, the hosts look in a very strong position – especially if the pitch does deteriorate as early as the third day.
However, England’s cause is not without hope. Pakistan have got a somewhat lengthy tail in this match. Riaz, who averages just nine in test cricket, is down to bat at number eight; therefore a couple of early wickets tomorrow morning could put the cat amongst the pigeons. It’s going to be a crucial first session on Friday.
PS If you haven’t done so already, take a look at Tregaskis’s latest article over at Drop In Pitch. Here’s a link. He’s in fine form as usual. You see that sacred cow over there? Consider it skewered.