By Ryan Moran
- First test in Abu Dhabi ended in a draw.
- The second test against Pakistan starts on 22nd
- Steven Finn pulls out of tour through injury, replaced by Chris Jordan.
Dubai, UAE – With a draw in Abu Dhabi, the series remains in the balance with all to play for and Ben Stokes’ place potentially vacant.
Plaudits were directed Alastair Cook’s way and rightly so after a captain’s innings of 263 kept England in the running after a hard innings bowling at a resolute Pakistan top order. Moeen Ali was selected as Cook’s opening partner and made 35 with Trevor Bayliss likely to stick with the opening pair. Pressure was on Ian Bell to produce runs after a disappointing Ashes series and did no harm making a half century and finishing on 63. Unfortunately for Bell, a drop in the slips proved costly with batsman Asad Shafiq, on 10 runs at the time, adding another 97 runs to make 107 while also dropping Mohammad Hafeez who was finally out on 98.
Another key performance came from Adil Rashid as the Yorkshire player’s bowling performances couldn’t have been more opposite. Rashid became the first bowler to be hit for 100 runs without taking a wicket when making a test debut however in the second innings took a five-for to give England a chance of victory with the bat.
Stokes made 50 in the first test but is a doubt for the second due to illness. The stomach virus affecting the all-rounder may open the place up to Samit Patel. Patel provides the side a third spinning option if the wicket requires and with the illness to Stokes it is likely Patel will be given the nod.
In the batting department, James Taylor’s batting display with a score of 61 runs in the second tour match puts pressure on both Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler to score quickly with Bell’s position the most secure despite fielding errors. A combined total of 23 runs over two innings doesn’t show for good reading but taking into consideration the role played in the second innings, along with Buttler’s combined total of 27 over two innings with the opening spot for a more T20 approach in the second innings and their places may be safe from Taylor for another test.
An injury to Steven Finn during the first test in Abu Dhabi resulted in the bowler withdrawing from the tour and being replaced by bowler Chris Jordan. The bowler has featured in the test squad as recently as May this year against the West Indies also playing against both Sri Lanka and India for the Three Lions. With 21 wickets on the test circuit, the Sussex player is no longer a stranger to the demands of the longer format. The demands of playing in the Middle East provide new challenges for the seamers having to bowl in shorter spells because of the hot conditions. Chances for Jordan look rare in a seam set up well established with Liam Plunkett likely to be given the call ahead of the Sussex player.
One player likely to return for the opposition is Yasir Shah having missed the first test with an injury to his back. Within a year, the leg-spinner has played 10 tests and taken 61 wickets and the best spin bowler in the world in ICC rankings being placed fifth behind both James Anderson and Stuart Broad who are ranked in second and third by the ICC.
Pakistan await England on the 13th October in Abu Dhabi.
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