It is no secret than England struggled to combat the variation of the spin of Saeed Ajmal in their first Test against Pakistan and less than a week is not ideally long enough for the camp to work on a different strategy.
Ajmal took ten wickets in the first Test in Dubai and he was also primarily responsible for the failings of the England top order, with the top six in the batting line-up managing just 143 between them in two innings.
The strategy in this match seemed to be sweep where possible, but Matt Prior appeared to have more joy when looking to play straight.
Prior’s 70 not out in the first innings saved England from an even more embarrassing defeat than the one they suffered by ten wickets and he believes that being watchful in the early overs is pivotal.
The wicket keeper added that England should mirror the same attitude they previously had for Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan, who they gradually improved against over time.
Many England cricket fans will remember the 1998 series with Sri Lanka where Muralitharan ended the one-off Test with figures of 16-220, but through taking time to settle in at the crease, England found it easier to pick his bowling and score runs.
Prior told the Daily Mirror: “I remember playing Murali in Sri Lanka and one of the big things we spoke about then was the first 20 balls you faced from him felt pretty frantic, pretty hectic. He bowled very quickly at you, which Ajmal does.
“If you get through that period with the men round the bat and the oohs and aahs, suddenly the game slows down. You start to see his wrist better and get the rhythm of the game.
“Batters are at their most vulnerable when they first go in.”
England’s odds are 11/5 to win the second Test, while Ajmal looks a great price at 7/4 to be the top Pakistan wicket taker across the two innings in Abu Dhabi.