After a series chiefly based around batting torment, the likes of which last seen when Ronnie Irani was playing for England, today saw Pakistan take firm control of the game with patient but controlled innings from Azhar Ali and Younus Khan, the latter scoring the first century of the series. This is more like the cricket we expected before we entered the tour, but that makes it none the less disappointing for England who are now starting down the barrel, like Depeche Mode in 1997.
Mission accomplished on all counts. England’s last four wickets were wrapped up promptly as Graeme Swann’s search for his maiden Test century continued. The two aforementioned batsmen then put them into a commanding position which barring a huge collapse – not beyond them – should at the very least make them safe from defeat.
This has been a chastising tour for the world’s number one Test outfit and today was as painful as they come. The bowlers toiled away manfully and found time to chuckle at the increasingly bizarre conclusions drawn by Netto’s own UDRS, but this is what you invariably get when you underperform with the bat away from home against sub-continental teams; long, fruitless sessions in the field.
Recent history dictates that you’d be a brave man to back England to make up the existing deficit of 180, let alone whatever Pakistan add on top tomorrow. Pray for a sandstorm, like Cast in 1996.