Swann must take early wickets as Ajmal tears apart England
England must take some early wickets on the second day of the first Test with Pakistan if they have any hopes of avoiding defeat in the opening clash of the series.
Things looked good before play for England after winning the toss and opting to bat first, but they were quickly in trouble at 42/5 before Matt Prior’s 70 not out ensured the scorecard ended semi respectably on 192.
Patience was the word used by captain Andrew Strauss heading into the series, but he failed to lead by example as England effectively orchestrated their own downfall with some poor decision making as they looked to attack.
The result is that England have drifted emphatically to 5/1 in the cricket odds to win the first Test, having initially started as slight favourites.
It was England’s lack of exposure to top-class spin bowling on sub-continental pitches that caused their biggest problems, with Saeed Ajmal almost single-handedly ripping through their batting order.
Ajmal registered career-best figures of 7-55 and England will quickly need to find a way of reducing his impact, with following Prior’s style of playing straight a potential good starting point.
Pakistan were largely untroubled in negotiating the rest of the day and are now 4/9 to win the first Test having ended day one on 42-0.
Their aim will now be to build up a big first innings lead and give themselves two days to bowl England out again and it is 5/6 that they make at least 370.
It is very rare in a Test environment for a team batting first to score under 200 in their opening innings but still secure victory, so the best England may realistically hope for now is a draw, which can be backed at 10/3.
The success of Ajmal may give some hope to Graeme Swann that he can take wickets, although England may be rueing their decision to leave out Monty Panesar.