Cow Corner

Records set to tumble in Dubai

Cow Corner

View gallery

.

It would be fitting if one of the craziest Test matches in recent years had a place in the record books as a number of startling stats already hinge on the breathless encounter in Dubai.

From the moment that Mohammad Hafeez became the 22nd player to be dismissed for the cost of just 268 runs, the potential records have been coming in thick and fast.

A staggering 15 lbw's have been given so far in this match alone, and that is before England's second innings has been allowed to progress beyond the 20-over mark.

An incredible tally of 41 lbw dismissals have now been made in the three-match series (the record in any length of series is 43) as the England batsmen in particular have struggled to grasp the concept of playing with the bat.

But beyond those interesting, but not essentially match-defining, stats lie the records that are set to be broken at the conclusion of this fast-paced and enthralling Test.

No side in 105 years has won after making fewer than 100 in the first innings of a Test match - a feat last achieved by England against South Africa at Headingley way back in 1907.

If that is Pakistan's incentive for a stunning victory, England have an even steeper ascent to make from a poor position.

If the tourists are to survive a series whitewash - which would be Pakistan's first against them - they will have to make the second-highest total to win a Test match in their history after the hosts set them a daunting target of 324 for victory.

Only the 332 they scored in 1928 to beat Australia in Melbourne would trump the feat, and it would be a truly unbelievable effort if Andrew Strauss's men manage to confound their doubters and Saeed Ajmal et al.

England's challenge is as monumental as it is, in large because of an inspired vigil from Azhar Ali - an innings which spanned nearly nine hours.

Azhar shattered his highest previous first-class score with his responsible, dutiful and downright dogged 157 from 442 balls. The innings goes fifth on the list of most deliveries faced by a Pakistan batsman in an knock against England and was certainly worth savouring.

View gallery

.

Pakistan's score of 365 has now become their second-highest in the second innings in Tests against England.

For all Azhar and Younis Khan's soul-destroying occupation of the crease and thirst for grinding England down into the desert dust, the tourists proceeded to stage an impressive recovery to wrap up the hosts' innings.

England's spinners raced through the final seven Pakistan wickets for just 34 runs in 22.2 overs to give themselves lingering hope that a solitary consolation victory could be possible.

It has been a tough series for Graeme Swann, in particular. He has a great career record against Pakistan left-handers, but there are only two of them in this series and Taufeeq Umar has often been dismissed before he has come on.

Meanwhile, Panesar's five-wicket haul is his second of the series after the 6 for 62 in Abu Dhabi, and he continues to shine in his second-spinner - but actually as it has turned out, first-spinner - role within Strauss's side.

What it all boils down to is the tourists' burning desire to end what has been a hugely disappointing series with an encouraging victory and, while that may be very unlikely, Andy Flower will at least be keen to see better application from his batsmen.

England will also be aiming to avoid their first whitewash in a series of three or more matches since their 5-0 drubbing in Australia in 2006-07. For a group of players constantly touted for potential greatness, that stat alone ensures that the stakes are extremely high.

++++

There was also some very sad news today, as Yuvraj Singh's physiotherapist Jatin Chaudhary confirmed that the India batsman is undergoing treatment for cancer in the United States.

Yuvraj said last year that he was diagnosed with a non-malignant tumour of the lungs but further tests showed he has cancer and he is now undergoing chemotherapy at the Cancer Research Institute in Boston. Chaudhary said the cancer is at a dangerous place in the body but is curable.

The stylish left-hander had earlier written on his Twitter account that he would seek inspiration from Lance Armstrong, the cyclist who won multiple Tour de France titles after being treated for testicular cancer.

Yuvraj's health first deteriorated during the World Cup last year in which he was the man of the series. He missed out on the tour to West Indies and England and played in the home Tests against West Indies before being dropped for the third match.

Cowers is sure that you will join it in extending your thoughts and best wishes to Yuvraj and his family.

++++

STAT OF THE DAY: So far in this series, Umar Gul's batting average is 11.50 and Ajmal's is 10.25. Both are better than Pietersen 9.80, Bell 8.20 and Morgan 10.20.

TWEETS OF THE DAY: Well done Monty Panesar again! Best spinner in England... (Jimmy Anderson)

Well bowled Stuart Broad. By far the best looking fast bowler in England. Jimmy Anderson is the best looking medium pacer. (Graeme Swann)

USER COMMENT OF THE DAY: "Can't this Ali retire unhurt or something - give us a chance? Isn't he tired, hungry or bored? We certainly are!" (Butterfingers)

SHOTS OF THE DAY: This is what happens when one slip fielder attempts a lethargic, half-hearted long barrier and another decides to do an impromptu rolly-polly as the ball is allowed to run away to the boundary.

View gallery

.
KP turns away in disgust and bewilderment as umpire Steve Davis spits on his cap to give it a shine before handing it back to the part-time spin bowler. Understandable, really.

View gallery

.

Swann and Anderson celebrate the elusive wicket of Azhar with a rather bewildering game of kiss-chase. All that needs to be said is that Matt Prior - who came from nowhere but used his gloves to good effect - won and claimed the big prize.

View gallery

.

View comments (49)