Dubai, third Test, day two

It’s almost over now. Today was the day that the bowlers, who have done absolutely everything they could in this series to keep England from being blown away, could finally do no more. Azhar Ali and Younis Khan have batted for two sessions and taken Pakistan to 222-2, a lead of 180. It’s probably already too many for England to chase and Pakistan can easily add another 200 to it. For the first time in the series England looked flat in the field and uninspired bowling. It’s annoying, but there comes a point at which I cannot blame them. They have performed brilliantly all series and put England in winning positions both in the second Test and in the first innings of this one only for the batsmen to let them down time and time again. They can’t be blamed for finally coming up short.

There are two possible upsides for England. The first is that maybe maybe, just this once the batsmen will not humiliate themselves and us. The pitch is flat (though so were the other two) and maybe they can do something reasonable for once. It’s unlikely, though the Pakistani batsmen have done well and they had a poor series too. More likely is that the bright side will be that the match will be over today. Pakistan could bat almost to stumps, but if they declare at lunch, or even the afternoon drinks break we probably won’t have to come back tomorrow. I’m not sure which I would prefer.

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