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06 February, 2012

first whitewash of 2012

first whitewash of 2012

Pakistan v England, 3rd Test, Dubai, 4th day

Pakistan secure series whitewash

The Report by David Hopps
February 6, 2012


Ajmal, spinning the ball both ways, not extravagantly but often, dismissed Kevin Pietersen and Alastair Cook in the afternoon session, to add to Jonathan Trott before lunch. Rehman counted Andrew Strauss as his sole success as he bowled unchanged for two sessions, 30 overs sent down with unerring accuracy. He is the sort of spin bowler who looks slightly weary from the outset, but never noticeably tires after that.

Pietersen was bent upon playing enterprisingly. The first ball of the afternoon provided a reminder of his vulnerability when a bat-pad against Rehman flew high past short leg, but he had the fleeting satisfaction of striking him straight for six before Ajmal, from around the wicket, spun one through the gate and beamed at further bounty.

Cook put up statuesque resistance. Along the way he became the second youngest person, at 27 years and 43 days, to reach 6,000 Test runs. Only Sachin Tendulkar has reached the landmark at a younger age. His most attacking shot of the morning, a loft into the leg side against Rehman, caused the bowler to taunt him with applause. He lived on scraps, combating the turning ball with thoughtful defence and numerous works to the leg side and that proved his undoing as a leading edge was brilliantly held by Younis Khan, diving to his left at first slip.

The emphasis has been upon spin, but Umar Gul reminded England that the quicker bowlers should not be entirely discounted as he got the old ball to reverse swing as much as at any time in the series. Ian Bell's state of mind is such that a long hop is quite enough. He averaged more than 100 last summer, less than 10 in this series, and when Gul offered up a gift he mistimed it wide of point. The ball that dismissed Eoin Morgan, caught by the wicketkeeper Adnan Akmal, who embarked upon a merry dance, was of higher quality.

England, 36 runs banked the previous evening, needed a further 288 at the start of play. Strauss fell in the sixth over of the morning, lbw on the back foot to Rehman. That was lbw No. 42 in this three-Test series, one short of the all-time record for a series of any length. Strauss reviewed it, although it smacked of a captain's review and he would have been better to head smartly for the dressing room. But when it comes to captain's reviews Strauss cannot match Misbah-ul-Haq. Misbah has been lbw on five occasions in this series and he has taken a review every time. It must be a captain's prerogative.

Without lapses in the field, Pakistan could have been in a stronger position. They had dropped Cook the previous evening, a relatively simple chance to Taufeeq Umar at third slip and Gul's drop in the shadows of the stand at deep square gave him another reprieve as Pakistan lost the efficiency that has characterised their cricket throughout this series. Rehman made his frustration clear when he caught Trott at deep square as he flung the ball into the turf with feeling at the errors that had gone before.

Adnan's fumble behind the stumps to reprieve Strauss, although not costly as the England captain was out in the next over, was the worst miss of all. Adnan has had a good series behind the stumps and has the opportunity to be Pakistan's first-choice keeper for many years to come but his excitable chatter had reached a peak. As Pakistan press for victory, it is in danger of becoming counterproductive. Strauss' edge flew to him at comfortable height but he put it down. For a few minutes he was quiet and you could hear your ears ringing.

Adnan's cacophony of cries often rent the air for inexplicable reasons. As do parrots, Adnan vocalises for many reasons. He may be excitedly greeting the day or summoning his family at sunset. He may be screeching when he is excited or when he is merely trying it on. He may screech when he thinks things have got too quiet or when he thinks it is his duty to scream. He just likes screeching. At one point he burst out coughing as if in sore need of a lozenge and Trott looked at him in deadpan fashion.

Adnan is also incorrigibly optimistic about reviewing umpiring decisions. "Do it, do it, yes, yes, all good," you can sense him saying. Misbah has learned not to take his evidence into consideration and looks askance at him. But Pakistan challenged umpire Steve Davis' not-out ruling when Ajmal beat Cook on the sweep. Hawk-Eye showed that the ball pitched outside leg. There again, disturbingly, it seems that Hawk-Eye also cannot read Ajmal's doosra, probably because it is English.
Kevin Pietersen is bowled through the gate, Pakistan v England, 3rd Test, Dubai, 4th day, February 6, 2012
Kevin Pietersen was again bamboozled by Saeed Ajmal © AFP 

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

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