Andrew Strauss, the England captain, right, and coach Andy Flower during a nets session.
Andrew Strauss, the England captain, right, and coach Andy Flower during a nets session.

England desperate to avoid Pakistan whitewash



DUBAI // Spin-weary England will be desperate to avoid the humiliation of a series whitewash against Pakistan in the third and final Test which starts at Dubai Stadium on Friday.

Andrew Strauss's men, pulverised by Pakistan spinners Saeed Ajmal and Abdul Rehman, are also in danger of losing their world number one spot after a dismal 10-wicket defeat in Dubai and the 72-run capitulation in Abu Dhabi.

Pakistan have never inflicted a Test series whitewash on England, who topped the Test rankings in August last year with an unbeaten nine series sequence, but have seen 34 of their 40 wickets tumble on tour to Pakistan's spinners.

Off-spinner Ajmal has led the destruction with 17 scalps while left-armer Rehman has claimed 12 wickets and Mohammad Hafeez five.

England need to win to guarantee their top spot on April 1 – the cut-off date for a $175,000 (Dh642,810) award to the side sitting at the top of the ICC Test championship table.

But their celebrated batting order has so far failed to answer the challenge laid down by Pakistan's wily spinners.

Jonathan Trott (141 in four innings) tops their batting chart, while Andrew Strauss (68) and Alastair Cook (109) have failed to provide strong starts.

Key batsmen Kevin Pietersen (17 in four innings), Ian Bell (36) and Eoin Morgan (41) have also struggled to cope with the slower ball as England lost the first Test in three days and the second in four.

The tourists will resist the temptation of replacing Morgan with Ravi Bopara whose last Test innings was a 44 not out, against India at The Oval.

Speaking after the Abu Dhabi defeat Strauss said his chastened team needed to bounce back after two dismal performances.

"Pakistan have thoroughly deserved their victory in the series," he said. "We've been below where we want to be and we need to come back and bounce back strongly from this.

"As a batting unit we have to hold our hands up and say we haven't been good enough, it's been pretty apparent, we need to be better than that," said Strauss, whose last hundred came 30 months ago.

The defeats have left no doubt about England's vulnerability to the slow ball on subcontinental wickets, a weakness they will need to address before tours to Sri Lanka and India later in the year.

"If you take the point of view, which I think you've got to, that you learn as much from your defeats as you do from your victories then I think we've learned some valuable lessons going forward," Strauss said.

"It's not easy in these conditions, in these circumstances but we're good enough players to be able to adjust to the conditions we've encountered."

Under Strauss' stewardship England have won only twice on the subcontinent – both times against minnows Bangladesh.

Pakistan are chasing the whitewash as they look to climb the Test rankings and captain Misbah-ul Haq has vowed his team will be going for the jugular in Dubai.

"We will try our level best to do the same we did in the first two Tests, we have the best team up against us so they can come back in the series, but what is in our control we will do," said Misbah, who has not lost a series since taking over in October 2010.

"We need to to do our hundred per cent and be focused for good cricket."

The Dubai Stadium pitch, which provided help to spinners from the first day of the opening Test, is likely to continue its assistance to slow bowlers.

Pakistan may consider replacing left-arm seamer Junaid Khan with Wahab Riaz, who has been part of the squad without taking the field.

Company Profile

Name: Direct Debit System
Started: Sept 2017
Based: UAE with a subsidiary in the UK
Industry: FinTech
Funding: Undisclosed
Investors: Elaine Jones
Number of employees: 8

The specs

Engine: Single front-axle electric motor
Power: 218hp
Torque: 330Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Max touring range: 402km (claimed)
Price: From Dh215,000 (estimate)
On sale: September

MATCH INFO

Newcastle 2-2 Manchester City
Burnley 0-2 Crystal Palace
Chelsea 0-1 West Ham
Liverpool 2-1 Brighton
Tottenham 3-2 Bournemouth
Southampton v Watford (late)

Du Plessis plans his retirement

South Africa captain Faf du Plessis said on Friday the Twenty20 World Cup in Australia in two years' time will be his last.

Du Plessis, 34, who has led his country in two World T20 campaigns, in 2014 and 2016, is keen to play a third but will then step aside.

"The T20 World Cup in 2020 is something I'm really looking forward to. I think right now that will probably be the last tournament for me," he said in Brisbane ahead of a one-off T20 against Australia on Saturday. 

Company Profile

Company name: Cargoz
Date started: January 2022
Founders: Premlal Pullisserry and Lijo Antony
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 30
Investment stage: Seed

EMIRATES'S REVISED A350 DEPLOYMENT SCHEDULE

Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates

Cricket World Cup League 2 Fixtures

Saturday March 5, UAE v Oman, ICC Academy (all matches start at 9.30am)

Sunday March 6, Oman v Namibia, ICC Academy

Tuesday March 8, UAE v Namibia, ICC Academy

Wednesday March 9, UAE v Oman, ICC Academy

Friday March 11, Oman v Namibia, Sharjah Cricket Stadium

Saturday March 12, UAE v Namibia, Sharjah Cricket Stadium

UAE squad

Ahmed Raza (captain), Chirag Suri, Muhammad Waseem, CP Rizwan, Vriitya Aravind, Asif Khan, Basil Hameed, Rohan Mustafa, Kashif Daud, Zahoor Khan, Junaid Siddique, Karthik Meiyappan, Akif Raja, Rahul Bhatia


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