Taming Ajmal now the challenge for England after edging first day
With the pitch in Abu Dhabi largely flat and more likely to aid batsman over bowlers, it must be classified advantage England after the opening day’s play against Pakistan in the second Test.
England were justified in picking four bowlers including two spinners for the first time since 2003 as Pakistan were reduced to 256-7, with Monty Panesar, Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad sharing the wickets.
In the previous two matches to have been played on the Abu Dhabi ground, 400 runs have been surpassed on four occasions, meaning that Pakistan would have fallen short of their target in reality if not going beyond 350.
They do still have Misbah-ul-Haq occupying the crease on 83 not out and how long he can stick around for on day two will have a large impact on the total Pakistan set.
But having to start from scratch again against a refreshed bowling attack, England may get him early and 5/6 could prove good value in the cricket odds that Pakistan score no more than 314 in their first innings.
England’s odds are now 7/4 to win the second Test and they obviously still have to bat well even if restricting Pakistan to less than a par score on the wicket.
The good news for England is that first-Test tormentor Saeed Ajmal only managed 1/167 on the last occasion that he bowled in Abu Dhabi and so there is hope that he may not be as effective this time.
But if England still struggle to cope with his spin, they may find themselves facing a first-innings deficit to overcome again.
It is 11/8 that Pakistan win the second Test, while the draw that was the popular result before the first day’s play can now be backed at 5/2.