By: Dr. I Malik
Next month we look forward to a cracking three Test series between Pakistan and England in the UAE. The two teams are ranked number 4 and 3 respectively in the ICC Test rankings.
This series will also include fours One Day Internationals and three T20 games.
Incredibly Pakistan are yet to face a Test series defeat in the UAE, which has been their ‘home’ venue since 2010. Pakistan has drawn series against South Africa twice, Sri Lanka and New Zealand. They have beaten Sri Lanka, England and Australia. This is indeed a mighty effort for a team which is unable to play in their home venues due to security threats.
The Pakistan Test team led by Misbah ul Haq are in good form. Alastair Cook’s England team have recently beaten Australia 3-2 in the highly competitive Ashes series.
Let us reflect on the last time England (ranked no.1 at the time) faced Pakistan in the UAE in 2012.
The result was a humiliating 3-0 whitewash loss for England. It was the first time in history that Pakistan had ever had a clean sweep against England.
In the 1st Test in Dubai, Pakistan won by 10 wickets, with Saeed Ajmal taking 7/55 in the 1st innings.
In the 2nd Test in Abu Dhabi, Pakistan won by 72 runs. England incredibly collapsed to 72 runs all out in the 2nd innings. Abdur Rehman took 6/25 to finish England off.
The 3rd Test in Dubai saw Pakistan fall to 99 all out in the 1st innings. Yet again the pair of spinners Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman limited England’s total. Azhar Ali (157 runs) and Younis Khan (127 runs) extended the lead. Pakistan won the match by 71 runs.
In the 3 Test match series Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman took 43 wickets between them.
Saeed Ajmal was awarded man of the series.
England’s captain at the time Andrew Strauss said beating an Asian team at home was the ‘final frontier’ for his team.
So moving towards next month’s series against England, how can Pakistan maintain their outstanding Test record in UAE? The answer is clear ‘spin to win’!
England notoriously struggle against quality spin bowling, enhanced by the turning UAE wickets.
This is where Yasir Shah and Zulfiqar Babar are likely to reap huge rewards. It is still not clear whether Saeed Ajmal will be in consideration for a return.
England don’t really have a specialist spinner. However Moeen Ali can be effective on his day.
I eagerly anticipate a thrilling encounter between these two in form teams. It is never boring when Pakistan play England, expect the unexpected.