Anderson Rides to the Rescue After Spinners Misfire Again

England were heading towards a 2-0 series defeat when Pakistan\'s opening pair of Mohammad Hafeez and Azhar Ali easily knocked off the first-innings.

Published: 04th November 2015 08:27 AM  |   Last Updated: 04th November 2015 08:27 AM   |  A+A-

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SHARJAH: With Volkswagen's reputation having been tarnished this summer by the revelations about carbon emissions, James Anderson has been left as the brand-leader for the finest engine in the European market.

England were heading towards a 2-0 series defeat when Pakistan's opening pair of Mohammad Hafeez and Azhar Ali easily knocked off the first-innings arrears of 72 and took the home-from-home side into the lead. Anderson's response - in defiance of the heat, humidity and an age of 33 - was a nine-over spell, the joint longest, with Wahab Riaz, for a pace bowler in this series.

Anderson took only one wicket - Shoaib Malik first ball with a perfect reverse-swinger - but he fired up Stuart Broad, and softened up the almost-great Younis Khan for Broad to dismiss. With a run-out thrown in, Pakistan were effectively 74 for three at the end of day three, the match and series on a knife-edge.

It was Hafeez who made the mistake of switching Anderson into overdrive. He had been driving down the middle lane, coasting at 80mph, when Hafeez slog-swept his off-cutter for six, and glanced his next ball for four. Anderson had taken equal-most wickets in the series to that point, 11, at only 14 runs each and less than two an over.

Anderson pulled out into the fast lane, clocked 85mph in his next over, and ripped out Malik lbw. Pakistan's double-centurion in Abu Dhabi was so deceived he thought no stroke would be necessary for a ball that would have flattened middle stump. Malik announced his retirement an hour later: quit while ahead, perhaps, before facing Anderson in England next summer.

For his first ball at Younis, Anderson went for the reverseinswinger which had defeated him in his first innings but the ball was just dug out. So Anderson beat him with three balls in a row past his outside edge. Younis was all set up for Broad to pin him, shouldering arms, as Anderson did to Malik.

England's opening bowlers were forced to fire because their spinners, again, could not. By the time they had finished off England's first innings for 306, Pakistan's spinners had figures of 84.5 overs, 12 maidens, 219 runs and eight wickets, compared with four wickets for 265 runs by England's spinners.

Almost every county, in almost every peacetime year of the 20th century, has fielded a pair of spinners who could have bowled more accurately - one an off-spinner, the other a slow left-armer. But the only spinner of proven Test standard in the first division of the County Championship last year was Jeetan Patel, of Warwickshire and, more relevantly, New Zealand.

Samit Patel, however, in partial compensation, played an excellent innings that was his best for England to date. Without it, his team would have had no lead to speak of as James Taylor could add only two runs to his overnight score, before fishing a long way from his body, and Jonny Bairstow only six.

In becoming another member of the Forty Club, Patel ran the worst and batted the best - certainly the most fluently - of all England's batsmen. When Patel was bowled by Yasir Shah straight after lunch, the dismissal echoed Shane Warne's of Mike Gatting: the width that the ball turned in 1993 was a touch more, as was that of the batsman. Malik, who had not bowled since breaking England's opening stand because they were all right-handers, cleaned up the tail to record his best, and penultimate, Test figures.

As every run counted towards putting scoreboard pressure on to Pakistan, the injured Ben Stokes blocked one ball from Yasir, and hung around while Broad swept England to 300.

Something then possessed Broad to take two off the last ball of an over from Malik and to expose Stokes to Riaz. Stokes took the inevitable bouncer on his chest: heaven knows what the damage would have been to his right shoulder.

Desperate for an early breakthrough, England thought they had one when Azhar was given caught behind off Anderson, but no.

England again thought they had a breakthrough when Hafeez on 11 thick-edged Moeen to the keeper, but no. After scoring six runs off seven overs of pace, Pakistan took 52 off the next 15 overs of spin before tea, Hafeez off-driving both Patel and Moeen for six.

The run-out, thanks to Azhar's hesitation, revived England immediately after the century opening stand was posted. As Anderson then used the old ball - cherry red on one side, dusty on the other - to -reverse-swing both ways, it was -advancement through technology, or vorsprung durch technik.

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