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Sunday, October 18, 2015

Abu dhabi Test ~ from dull high scoring 1st innings to scintillating drama in the end !!

Pak declaring at 523/8 and England replying 598/9 declared – Test no. 2180 at Abu Dhabi was bound for a tame draw ! – not an advertisement for Test Cricket one thought !! ~ eventually it was bad light … but not before unimaginable drama in the final day/.

Test Cricket is a different ball game ~ bowlers will have their say – way back in 1975 in that Pongal Test – it was Julien who opened the floodgates sending back Engineer and Solkar – Roberts made inroads – and India were reeling at 117/9.  Gundapa Vishwanath stood amidst ruins remaining unbeaten on 97.  Roberts took 7; when WI batted Richards made 50 but Prasanna (5) and Bedi (3) bowled them out for 192. In the 2nd essay Vishy made 46; Anshuman Gakewad (80) and Karsan Ghavri (35) had a great partnership going – setting up a target of 255.  Prasanna, Bedi, Chandra smartly supported by Farokh Engineer set up that famous 100 run win. 

In Mar 2001, Border Gavaskar Trophy – Aussies had a strong 1st day – Mathew Hayden made 203 as Oz piled up 391  - they were 217/2 at one stage.  Harbhajan took 7/133/  Sachin made century; SS Das, Sadagopan Ramesh, Laxman, Dravid all made half centuries taking total to 501.  Aussies were all out for 264, setting up a final day target of  155 – from 101/2, India slipped to 135/7.  VVS Laxman (66) and Samir Dighe (22) in the end ensured a victory. 

Those were the classic examples of Test matches – not such dull dreary ones as at Abu dhabi, one was inclined to post on the Test between England – Pakistan.

Here in the inter-continental fixture, there were reports of only 54 people turning up at Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; Adil Rashid having a nightmarish debut going for none for 163 obliterating the record of Bryce McGain as worst-performing bowler in debut ~ …. but, were not critics writing an obituary too early ???

Test Cricket is known for its twists and turns, yet this was too much … there have been 6 Instances of a batsman scoring a double-century and a duck in the same Test. Shoaib Malik is the second Pakistan batsman in the list, after Imtiaz Ahmed, who scored 209 and 0 v NZ in Lahore in 1955. The last time this happened was in 2003, when Ricky Ponting scored 242 and 0 versus India in Adelaide.

Adil too had to get more records after that worst performance in the 1st innings.  He took a five for in the second !  After 1,121 runs and 17 wickets in the first two innings of an extraordinarily slow-burning contest, the first Test in Abu Dhabi all but exploded into a Technicolor fireworks finish, as England fell agonisingly short of glory following a Twenty20-style run-chase. Adil Rashid, turned his long-awaited maiden Test wicket into a redemptive five-wicket haul as Pakistan were routed for 173 in 57.5 overs.

England just needed  99 for victory in what amounted to an hour's worth of daylight, England could not quite defy the heavens in their gallant sprint for the line. Had there been time for Pakistan to bowl their full allocation of 19 overs, the target would have been a breeze for a spirited young line-up featuring many of the men who have revived England's one-day fortunes this summer. However, despite the best efforts of Joe Root, who hustled 33 from 29 balls, and Jonny Bairstow, who clattered an enormous six over midwicket in a Wahab Riaz over that was dispatched for 17 runs, their rage against the dying of the light left them 25 runs short after an 11-over slog.

Pakistan, inevitably, were in no hurry to get through their overs, but they could hardly be faulted for that. England themselves have used delaying tactics to their advantage in the past, not least during their great escape at Cardiff in the 2009 Ashes, when Bilal Shafayat, the 12th man, earned notoriety for his glove-delivering duties. Ultimately it came down to the umpires to assess the conditions, just as they had done on the previous evening.
The end of the match was signalled with an apologetic shrug of the shoulders, as Bruce Oxenford and Paul Reiffel called a halt to proceedings at 5.46pm local time, seven minutes before sunset was officially confirmed.
The scoreline would never reflect the high drama.  Pak 523/8; England 598/9… then Pak 173 and England 74/4 in 11 overs…. ..  Sadly badlight stopped play and match was drawn !

A great test match indeed.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
18th Oct 2015.

PS:  photo and lot of inputs taken from Cricinfo.

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