The Over: Pakistan v England – Day 3

As it was a Sunday morning, both of us were asleep during the early phases of the day’s play, but here’s what we’ve gleaned:

Another spectacular collapse against spin today, but this time it wasn’t England. Pakistan have a lot to thank Younus and Azhar for – the next highest score after their hundreds was Misbah’s glacially slow 31 and only four batsmen passed 20. If you take out the two hundreds, the rest of the line-up made only 81 including extras. That’s 18 wickets in the match for 180, which you’d say was pretty rubbish if it wasn’t for the fact that England’s batsmen have been equally rotten. Two things emerge from that then – firstly England are still bowling bloody well for the most part (our voodoo worked to an extent on Swann, who picked up three), and secondly those two hundreds by Younus and Azhar are all the more special for the fact that everyone (including them) has looked like gorillas batting with toothpicks for most of the series.

Putting our statto hats on briefly, for all the good things that the UAE have done in this series, the pitches haven’t exactly been conducive to free-flowing batting. By our reckoning, so far we’ve had 2216 runs in 868.5 overs at 2.55 RPO. In this day and age of endless ODIs and T20s, that is SLOW, and it’s largely because, for better or worse, batting has been a struggle, although any Test series that contains Cook, Trott, Misbah and (now added to that list) Azhar Ali is never going to be thrill-a-minute stuff. In our opinion, this change of pace hasn’t necessarily been a bad thing; the cricket has been no less riveting owing to the fact that a wicket could fall at any time. Even so, let’s not make a habit of it, chaps, or global audiences might start getting bored, especially as there’s no loud music or half-naked ladies to distract them.

Adnan Akmal – we’ve already mentioned some of his more annoying traits, and we don’t mean to victimise him, but can someone please teach him the LBW law? Adnan, a friendly word – two basic aspects: 1) The ball has to hit the pad or some other part of the batsman, and 2) It’s can’t be out if the batsman hits it first WITH HIS BAT. There were several occasions today where he appealed when Cook or Strauss damn near middled it. One of us is a keeper, and we understand that sometimes you can’t see through the batsman, but it’s getting pretty annoying now. While we’re at it, ONE HAND ONE BOUNCE IS NOT OUT IN REAL CRICKET, as you seemed to think at one point.

Thought you were off the hook, Adnan? Not quite yet. Something happened on the third evening which could (and we stress only could) turn out to be a key moment in the match: Akmal and Pakistan pretty much pissed away one of their two precious reviews. When you look at how they got their wickets in the first innings, several were LBWs that the umpire wasn’t sure enough about to give out, but which were overturned on review. The review which Pakistan used up was a woeful call, with the ball striking Strauss a good few inches outside off, and Akmal looked a bit sheepish once he saw the replay. The fact that they only have one left will likely mean that they are much more cautious about using their last one for fear of wasting that too and might mean that England can use their pad as a second line of defence with a bit more certainty.

Cue the fanfare and put on a slap-up lunch! England made it to the close, a full 20 overs, without losing a wicket! Amazingly enough, upon reaching 29-0, they recorded their highest opening stand of the series so far, and pushed on further to the uncharted realms of 36-0 by the close. It’s hardly the second innings at Brisbane 2010 yet, but not losing a wicket this evening was the minimum requirement. England are still in this match, and if Cook and Strauss can put on 100 or so, who knows what might happen?

And finally, putting aside all the silliness we attempt to add to this blog, life has given us a quick reminder about how frivolous and insignificant cricket is in the greater scheme of things with the news that Yuvraj Singh has been diagnosed with a tumour on his lung. The signs appear to be good as it was discovered early, but nevertheless we here at TGECF wish Yuvraj a full and speedy recovery. We would say we’re looking forward to seeing him smashing Broad for 36 in an over again soon, but that would be a lie. Nevertheless, get well soon.

Over.

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