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Friday, 3 February 2012

England Gain Early Edge in Dubai

The champions have fought back like ferocious cornered lions this morning at Dubai. At the time of writing they have Pakistan reeling at 44 for 7.

The fourth innings victory target of 145 at Abu Dhabi presented England a fair opportunity to square the series. However disaster struck as they folded up for 72, surrendering the series 2-0. Strauss and his team made no excuses, although it was just the last session that lost them the game, one in which they had dominated all the preceding sessions.

Today England have turned up strong and committed, out to prove their status and their ability to win in sub-continental conditions. The seamers, Anderson and Broad, have bowled with aggression and discipline, giving Pakistan no room for error.

The Dubai pitch is flat, as it was in the first match of the series. This surface has runs to offer. Pakistan will no doubt hope and expect their bowlers to get them back into this game. Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman have troubled England so far in the series. With the DRS and accurate spin bowling, England will need to do better, no doubt. But I suspect England have turned the corner!

Speculation is fraught with danger, but the first session here has been match defining in my view. England are in the driver's seat and this match can only have one result from here.

Of interest might be whether England can return Pakistan the favour, and bundle them out for a double digit total after lunch. I expect the England first innings to have a few big individual scores and partnerships. The retained batting order has the opportunity to prove itself, particularly Strauss, Pieterson and Morgan. So it's all worth looking forward to. If Pakistan can work their way back from here, it will be quite a feat to savour, but don't expect England to let go their grip on this game easily.
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