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England fancy their chances
Pakistan players during a practice session at Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Wednesday.

Dubai - Cook's men intent on building upon initial draw, but Dubai pitch may favour Pakistan

By Alex Leach

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Published: Thu 22 Oct 2015, 9:23 PM

Last updated: Fri 23 Oct 2015, 2:18 PM

England will look to carry the momentum established from last week's drawn first Test down in Abu Dhabi when they begin the second five-dayer against Pakistan here this morning (Thursday, Start: 10am). Alastair Cook's men ended up having much the better of the predominantly snooze-inducing stalemate in the national capital.
Admittedly, the tourists couldn't stop their hosts accruing a daunting first-innings total (523-8dec) as double centurion Shoaib Malik (245), Asad Shafiq (107) and opener Mohammad Hafeez (98) plundered runs aplenty. However, Cook himself responded to Malik's heroics with a hefty score of his own on a decidedly flat deck and contributions from the likes of Joe Root (85), Ian Bell (63) and Ben Stokes (57) helped England surpass Pakistan's tally by 75.
The 'home' batsmen weren't quite in such good nick come their second spell out in the middle though, with skipper Misbah-ul-Haq (51) typically their topscorer as his side slumped to 173ao.
Younis Khan (45), Hafeez (34) and Sarfraz Ahmed (27) were the only other men to make double figures as Adil Rashid (5-64), James Anderson (2-30) and Moeen Ali (2-28) did the damage on a now turning track. England then needed to register 99 runs between them to prevail outright, yet bad light curtailed their run chase agonisingly shy of their target at 74-4. Still, for a Test match that seemed destined to peter out into a bore draw for the best part of four days, the visitors came very close to winning it and that should give them plenty of confidence heading into this game.
Nonetheless, Pakistan's playing personnel are proven operators in these conditions and surroundings nowadays and the wicket at the Dubai International Stadium seems far more suited to them this time around. "It's a typical Dubai pitch, which should suit us," Misbah said. "It's like what we want here in the emirate. It could be a different scenario (from the first Test) because this is a completely different pitch and that was a totally different surface. Normally, we don't have those sorts of surfaces in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. We have to really just see how the pitch is behaving and how we have to go about our plans.
"We cannot just go there relying much on the previous performance in the last game and say: 'Oh, we bowled badly.' The pitch played a role in that as well.
"But, at the end of the day, you have to play good cricket. That's the only way to just do well in the game or win it." Cook hadn't seen the wicket when he spoke to the assembled press pack yesterday (Wednesday) lunchtime, although - given his prior experiences here - he inherently knows what to expect all the same.
"It will turn more here and a bit quicker than it did in Abu Dhabi," he stated. "Last time we were here, there was a bit more in it for the seamers early on.
"It's a slightly unique stadium here in so much as the shadow over the ground is still there - or close to still being there - at 10 o'clock.
"That allows a little bit more dampness in the wicket overnight, so there is a little bit more movement early on and then that quickly dries out. It should be a better cricket wicket than the other one."

> Pakistan (possible) 1 Shan Masood, 2 Mohammad Hafeez, 3 Shoaib Malik, 4 Younis Khan, 5 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), 6 Asad Shafiq, 7 Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), 8 Wahab Riaz, 9 Zulfiqar Babar, 10 Yasir Shah, 11 Imran Khan
> England (possible) 1 Alastair Cook (capt), 2 Moeen Ali, 3 Ian Bell, 4 Joe Root, 5 Jonny Bairstow, 6 Ben Stokes, 7 Jos Buttler (wk), 8 Adil Rashid, 9 Stuart Broad, 10 Mark Wood, 11 James Anderson

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