Written by Rod Crowley: Were the England cricket team, their fans and the media far too optimistic for their own good when believing that they could beat a Pakistan team on a pitch that is completely suited to sub-continent teams?
After all, England’s record in test match cricket in recent years on the sub-continent has been dismal, so why should we have expected anything other than the humbling the England team were given in the first test in Dubai?
Perhaps it is because England are now the number one test cricket nation in the world and have a team that can bat in depth with a bowling line-up that is arguably the best we have had since the Botham/Willis era.
This match proved if nothing else that rankings are futile in cricket, because outcomes of matches are decided on the surfaces of the pitches and whilst England would have possibly reversed the result at Lords they were simply outclassed by Pakistan on a sub-continent style Dubai pitch.
Perhaps the rankings should carry a caveat with something like “England are the best test cricket team in the world but not in the sub-continent", that would certainly make more sense, particularly should they lose the second test which starts on Wednesday in Abu Dhabi.
There is no doubt that the 10 wicket massacre sent shockwaves through the England camp and although plenty of blame can be placed upon the poor decision making of the England batsmen, the match was really lost by the bowling feats of Saeed Ajmal and Umar Gul. Add to the mix that four of the Pakistani batsmen made fifty or more tells its own story.
There was also the small matter of national pride for England to contend with. Pakistan are remain extremely embarrassed by the spot fixing scandal that saw three of their top players jailed for the parts that they played and knew that victory over England would go a long way to burying that nightmare.
Perhaps in some respects England were lucky that the spot fixing scandal happened otherwise they would have been up against an even stronger team.
Only Matt Prior, Graeme Swann and possibly Jonathan Trott can come away from the first test with any batting credit, which is quite embarrassing as two of these three players bat in the lower order. Swann of course also weighed in with four wickets and Prior, proving to be an outstanding wicket-keeper these days took three catches.
For Pakistan and England cannot say they were not warned, Ajmal was always the man that could destroy them and he did just that. In fact he was a revelation coming away from the match with ten wickets, seven of them in the first innings which more than anything else was the reason why Pakistan won so convincingly.
Gul of course ripped out the top order of the England batting line up in the second innings with a devastating spell of bowling where only Trott managed to handle him. He was helped by three further wickets from Ajmal and three from the unorthodox spin of Abdur Rehman.
In the batting stakes Pakistan managed to ‘run considerable salt into England first innings wounds’ by managing an opening wicket stand of 114 between Mohammad Hafeez and Taudeeq Umar.
Both went beyond fifty with Hafeez top scoring for his team with an excellent 88. There were also fifties for the captain Misbaq ul Haq and Adman Akmal.