x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

England batsmen struggle against ICC XI in Dubai

Tourists 186 runs behind with one day to go in warm-up game ahead of first Test against Pakistan.

The ICC Combined XI's Hamid Hassan celebrates the wicket of England's Jonathan Trott.
The ICC Combined XI's Hamid Hassan celebrates the wicket of England's Jonathan Trott.

DUBAI // The unheralded players who make up the ICC Combined XI have given themselves a chance of forcing a shock victory over England by closing day two of their tour match 186 runs ahead.

The collective side, made up of the leading players from the nations beyond the Test sphere, still have five wickets left.

And, with the free-spirited Afghan pair of Mohammed Nabi and Mohammed Shahzad at the wicket, the ICC side will hope to extend their lead further in Dubai on Monday morning.

Hamid Hassan, the ICC Combined XI fast bowler, endured a bittersweet morning on day two of the opening warm-up match of England’s tour of the UAE.

The highly-regarded Afghan bowler gained two prize scalps early in the day, as he sent back Andrew Strauss, the England captain, and Jonathan Trott, the world cricketer of the year for 2011.

Hassan, who first learnt the game throwing stones in a refugee camp on Pakistan’s border during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, was stretchered away soon after his spell had ended, however.

After chasing a drive from Alastair Cook to the mid-off fence, he hurdled the small picket fence which circles the playing area, and fell awkwardly on the metal tracks on which the sightscreens move.

He injured both elbows and his left knee in the fall, and looked in serious discomfort as he was carried to receive treatment inside the Global Cricket Academy building. He was then taken to hospital in Dubai, but his further participation looks unlikely.

The incident took the gloss off the shot which brought up a first half-century on tour for Cook, who was married on New Year’s Eve.

England’s commitment to forcing results in their practise matches on tour, rather than treating them as glorified net sessions, led to the odd sight of them declaring 96 runs behind, on the stroke of tea.

They must have seen enough from the pitch to believe they can force a win, and the evidence from their innings suggests the wicket is taking turn.

After Cook fell for 76, Nabi and Majid Haq, the Combined XI off-spinners took three wickets between them as England were reduced to 185 for eight.

The Combined XI top order struggled against the new ball again in their second innings, just as they had in the first.

However, they will hope to force enough of a lead to be able to be able to invoke some nerves among England’s batsmen in the final day of play.

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