England vs Pakistan: 3rd Test Day Two

Predicting sporting contests is a fool’s game much of the time, though it remains fun to do.  The very essence of sport is that the unexpected happens, otherwise there’d be no point watching or participating.  Nevertheless, the degree of certainty so many had that England would prevail in this match before the start was rather peculiar, apparently based on the undoubted hiding that England dished out at Old Trafford.  When Pakistan put England into bat, it was called defensive, when England were bowled out on day one, it meant that England would do the same to the tourists on day two.  It is as though Pakistan’s victory at Lords never happened, as though they were merely cannon fodder for an all conquering home side to swat aside.  Some even predicted a 7-0 Test summer, as though Pakistan were no more of a threat than Sri Lanka.

England are not out of this game by any means, the late wicket of the excellent Azhar Ali made the day slightly less dreadful than it would have otherwise been, and with Pakistan still 40 runs behind the possibility of early wickets in the morning with a still fairly new ball remains.  But England desperately need those early wickets for if they don’t get them they are in serious trouble, even if Pakistan are the ones having to bat last.  All things being equal, by the time England are batting again, there should be a little more help for the spinners, and one of the notable things about Moeen Ali’s bowling today was that while it wasn’t hugely effective, he was getting bounce occasionally, and bounce is a considerable danger when utilised by an outstanding spin bowler.

It had all started so well, Mohammed Hafeez slapping a wide long hop straight to Gary Ballance at point, but after that it was all Pakistan.  Sami Aslam impressed mightily in only his third Test match – and startlingly, he hasn’t played a first class match since December.  He looked every inch the Test opener; compact, technically sound and perhaps as important as anything else, he left the ball superbly.  England didn’t look like getting him out, so his partner did it for them, running him out with a dreadful call, albeit Sami could have backed up a little more.

Should Pakistan bat well tomorrow, England have another potential problem, for Anderson has received two warnings for running on the pitch and another will see him banned for the rest of the innings.  Anderson himself didn’t behave terribly well, and subsequently said that he’d apologised to both umpires.  Whether that is enough to distract the match referee remains to be seen.

The not out batsman overnight is Younis Khan, and it is hard to decide whether it is amusing or painful to watch his batting travails at present.  He looks hideously out of form and is fighting with himself every ball he faces.  His batting technique is all over the place, jumping in the air constantly, weight distribution somewhere around the inverse of what it should be – yet he is still there.  To see such an elegant player battling this way is both impressive and worrying given his age.  As ever, when a player gets older he is given little time to simply be out of form.

One other small point:  the 90 overs were completed today.  That it is worthy of comment should in itself highlight the problem.

By the close of play tomorrow England could be in serious trouble, if they aren’t batting soon after lunch it will be a difficult match to win; if they aren’t batting by tea they are in dire straits.  Tomorrow is a big day for both teams, but Test cricket can and does turn on a session.  England will need the morning to be one of those.

Day Three Comments Below



2015 Test Century Watch #20 – Younis Khan

Younus-Khan_1500837cYounis Khan – 148 v Bangladesh at Mirpur

Ah, the old warrior, fresh from missing out in the runfest at Khulna, has cashed in today with a 148 in the second test. This was his 29th test hundred, made in his 98th test match, and he continues an exemplary conversion rate which means when he reaches 50, he makes it to 100 every other time. This is his 12th highest test century, not even half way to his career best of 313 against Sri Lanka in 2009 in Karachi.

This is Younis’s third test ton against Bangladesh, with the other two both coming in Chittagong, where he made 200* in 2011, and 119 as long ago as 2002. His previous best at Mirpur was 49. This was the 18th test century made by Pakistan against Bangladesh (number 19 followed three overs later) and Younus joins Mohammad Hafeez as the only Pakistanis to make three test hundreds against them.

Let’s do 148, and ask the question. Have you ever seen a test 148, Dmitri? Ah, funny you should say that but…no. I thought that might have been the score of one of Ponting’s tons in Adelaide, but it isn’t. This was the 31st test 148, and some that my readers may remember include:

  • Rahul Dravid at Headingley in his 2002 “we don’t seem to be able to get this chap out” tour.
  • Alastair Cook’s 148 at Adelaide in his tour for the ages in 2010/11, where he followed up his 235* with this knock. Those were the days.
  • One for Arron, Robin Smith’s 148* at Lord’s in 1991 when he marshalled the tail superbly and made a magnificent hundred.
  • Tim Robinson’s 148 in 1985, allied with David Gower’s 215, was a joy to watch one glorious Saturday afternoon. Have that on video somewhere…

However, as I always try to do, I want to pick out the old or the obscure, and the first 148 was made back in 1884. It’s almost astonishing that another man was not dismissed on this score for 87 years after that (MAK Pataudi), but back in the day Allan Steel made 148 at Lord’s in 1884 to help England to an innings victory over the Australians. I liked this description of him from Cricinfo:

Though not a regular captain of county or country, he had an improbable run of success as skipper: Marlborough over Rugby, Cambridge over Oxford, Gentlemen over Players, Lancashire over Yorkshire and England over Australia.

Bet he’s on Metatone’s Mafia hitlist (well, he’d been dead over a century, so that’s probably pointless). Anyway, the almanack entry gives you the facts of the first test 148.

Les Ames made an unbeaten 148 against South Africa at The Oval in 1930, and Kenny Barrington an unbeaten 148 against the same opposition at Kingsmead, Durban in the period intervening Steel and Pataudi. Tony Greig made two scores of 148 in 13 months – once in India at the Brabourne, Mumbai, and once in Bridgetown. Greig and Dravid have been dismissed twice for 148, while Barrington and Tendulkar have a dismissal and a not out to their name of that score.

This is the second 148 of the year. The first being made by AB DeVilliers against the West Indies in Cape Town. That century watch can be found here

This was the 26th test hundred made at Mirpur. At time of writing, given Azhar Ali is not out overnight, Younis ranks in 6th place, has the highest score for Pakistan (beating Taufeeq Umar’s 130) and was the second Pakistani to make a hundred at this venue (again, obviously, Taufeeq being the first). The ground record is held by Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Mahela Jayawardena who both made unbeaten 203s.

Younis Khan’s century came up in 142 balls and contained 9 x 4 and a six.