Sunday, 7 August 2016

Third test, a classic!

Day one.  Pakistan won the toss and put England in...  A surprise that they'd pass up on the first use of the wicket and the opportunity to let Shah bowl on a fourth innings track...
England bat and seem to be making headway but wickets fall regularly.  Cook makes 45, Ballance a patient 70 and Moeen a fluent 63.  At the end of the day England are all out for 297, Sir Geoffery reckons it's a decent score... time will tell.

There are definite problems with the top order.  Hales looks to be going backwards against world class bowlers and Vince has to go, even second innings runs won't ease the doubts.  For Pakistan Sohail Khan takes 5 wickets.  A great day of test cricket!!

Day two.  Time for England's bowlers to turn the screw.  Four balls into the day and Jimmy strikes!!!  Here we go!!  Or not.  After that Pakistan's batsmen dig in and give us a batting lesson and it's painful listening for the England fan.  A great partnership between Azhar and Aslam with the former making a century and the latter unlucky to be run out in the eighties.  Woakes strikes on the last ball of the day but at 257-3, Pakistan are in control.

Day three.  Can Pakistan build a match winning lead?  England's bowlers retain control and chip away with wickets but the lead builds slowly.  When Misbah is out for a half century one end is open and wickets fall more regularly, still the lead is 103 and Michael Vaughan on TMS has researched the stats which say England only have a 3% chance of winning from here.  Also Jimmy has to be taken out of the attack for the innings for following through onto the wicket once too often.

The pressure is on England's openers but they start well and build their way to an unbeaten opening stand of 120 and the deficit is wiped out, both Cook and Hales have half centuries, the latter reaching the milestone from the last ball of the day.  At the end of the day the match is even, if anything England are slightly ahead.  This is turning into a great test match!

Day four.
Pakistan struck early removing both openers and it was game on again!  If wickets tumbled England would be in trouble but we managed to keep putting partnerships together with all of the top order contributing.  Work was busy which prevented me from following too closely or getting too nervous.  At 282-5 with a lead of just 179 the match was in the balance but a great partnership from Bairstow and Ali, battering a tiring attack swung the game.  Only one team could win from here.

Day five.
I was sitting by a windswept lake in rural Suffolk when play commenced for the fifth and final day.  First Moeen battered the Pakistan bowlers for a bit before the declaration then England picked up a wicket early with the hapless Hafeez playing another poor shot.  When I tidied up the fishing gear at lunch time Pakistan had cruised to lunch and a draw was on the cards.

I settled in front of the tele just after Ali had removed Azhar, does that give us a chance?  Jimmy bowled a great spell removing Younis, reversing the ball and creating pressure.  Finn and Woakes followed and between them took four wickets for one run, the win was on now!  England clinched it after tea, despite a last wicket partnership which threatened to embarrass for a while. The wickets were shared with each bowler picking up two apiece.  Moeen Ali took the final one and with two half centuries in the picked up the man of the match award.

From being a hundred runs adrift on first innings England have played brilliantly to fight back and win this match.  Every one of the eleven players has contributed to this win yet we STILL don't know what our best XI is!  Also, I wonder how the match would have progressed had Azhar Ali survived the final ball of day two?

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