x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Match-winning haul puts Panesar in line for role in first Test

England selectors might be forced to rethink strategy of playing three seamers and one spinner after slow left-armer took eight PCB XI wickets.

DUBAI // On the larger oval at the Global Cricket Academy on Friday, England beat the best opposition the Pakistan Cricket Board could provide – short of fielding their Test side – by 100 runs, to claim a second win in a week.

Their players had their every move tracked by global positioning system monitors, while those not involved were sent off running around the campus to get even fitter than they already are.

Simultaneously, on the adjacent field, Pakistan's finest enjoyed a low-key practice match that was basically a glorified net session, with young players from the local Phoenix Medicines club side brought in to help out with the fielding.

There is more than one way to win a Test series. However, for all their contrasting preparation, Pakistan and England could well meet at precisely the same modus operandi when they line up for the opening match on Tuesday.

Monty Panesar's eight-wicket haul in the game could force the England selectors into going into the match at Dubai International Cricket Stadium with two spin bowlers.

It would be a break from the method which has carried them to the top of the Test game, but it is a formula which has suited Pakistan well since they started calling the UAE home.

Mohsin Khan, Pakistan's interim coach who seems certain to be replaced by Dav Whatmore at the end of this series, deems Panesar "one of the best left-arm spinners in the world".

And he believes the top-ranked Test side will be formidable, whatever the make-up of the final XI they settle on next week.

"I don't care much for rankings, but England have a very well-balanced team," the Pakistan coach said.

"They have a good spin attack, their pace attack is good, they have a very good captain, so we have a tough opposition.

"I can happily say that we have a very talented team, and we have to mix the talent and the professionalism together to counter the opposition."

Despite their good form in winning their two warm-up matches, England have plenty of questions still to answer.

Chris Tremlett proved he is fit to bowl, even if he did admit to problems when it comes to fielding and batting, following inflammation in his right eye.

Tremlett hopes to fill the void left by the injured Tim Bresnan but faces strong competition in the form of Steven Finn and Graham Onions.

He said unseasonably hot weather will require bowlers to pace themselves. "In this heat, you don't want to over bowl. You want to make sure you are ready for the Tests coming up."

pradley@thenational.ae


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