Monday, 26 October 2015

Two tests

The trouble with the tour to UAE is by the time I've remembered there's a game on half the play for the day is over.  Sorry but cricket vs Pakistan on turgid pitches just doesn't jump into my head when I wake up in the morning.  It doesn't enter my mind amidst the chaos of getting myself and the kids fed and off to school/work and it's now too cold to use the secret radio perch at work.  (Long story...)

I was forced to follow the match with my phone but I didn't miss much over the first four days of the first test.  The pitch was a road, Pakistan batted first and made 500+ with Malik making 245.  In reply England went past Pakistan's score built around a monster 263 from Cook.  It was all set to fizzle out into a boring draw.

I had the radio on in the boat, for the first time I had a chance to listen to some play on TMS but I didn't expect what happened next.  England took wickets, pressure built, England bowled Pakistan out with Rashid taking 5-64.  England were set an unlikely run chase in failing daylight and were always a couple of overs short.  Pakistan wasted time of course but we would have done the same.  The match ended in a draw but the moral victory went to England, not that it ever seems to make a difference.

The second test followed a similar path for the first couple of days albeit at a slightly brisker pace as the pitch was much better.  Pakistan won the toss again and made 378, at stumps on day two England were 182-3, the match was perfectly poised, day three would be crucial.  This day fell on the weekend so I would be able to follow on TV.  

By the time I had woken up England had collapsed and Pakistan controlled the game.  They pressed home their advantage on day four, building a massive lead and leaving England with an uphill task to survive.  Going into the final day the score stood at 130-3, with England still 361 behind a win was beyond us, could we bat for three sessions and survive the day?  In short no.  Root fell early and wickets tumbled.  A great partnership from Rashid and Wood gave us hope but Pakistan took the final wicket with just a few overs to spare.

England have performed well over the two tests and really deserve to be 1-1 but that's cricket.  The bowlers have all done well but in the batting England have selection dilemmas.  As Opener Moeen Ali hasn't really been a success so far but will almost certainly get one more match.  Buttler has been short of runs for some time now and it would make sense to rest him.  However his potential replacement, Bairstow, is already in the side and hasn't impressed either.  One of these two should be make way to give James Taylor a well deserved go in the team.  Long term I think Buttler will come good and be England's keeper for many years to come.  If Bairstow plays in the third match it will be his twentieth test for England, he should have scored a hundred by now...

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