Ends: Emirates Road End, Dubai Sports City End
Home Team: Pakistan
Test history: 11 Tests (6 home wins, 2 losses, 2 draws)
Tosses: 11: 10 batted first (5 wins, 2 draws, 3 defeats), 1 bowled first (1 win)
One of four planned or completed stadiums in the ever-evolving Dubai Sports City, the world’s first ever purpose-built athletic metropolis, Dubai International Cricket Stadium weighs in with plenty of impressive numbers.
Flanked by football, basketball, ice hockey, volleyball, handball and netball facilities, the 25,000-seater boasts an unsurpassed 350 floodlights across its ‘ring of fire’.
Unique in that its lighting is lavished entirely across the stadium’s stands rather than individual pylons, the ground brags arguably the best playing visibility across the planet.
A 30-floor, five-star hotel, state-of-the-art electronic scoreboard, shaded rafters for every single spectator, oversized dressing rooms, a voluptuous media centre, gymnasiums, swimming pools and a world-class drainage system – the plush, excessive desert oasis has it all.
Reuters news agency has quoted “informed sources” suggesting the PCB are remunerated 800,000 pounds for each event in Dubai, so it’s little wonder they are happy to act as pseudo ‘hosts’ while their real home grounds are without international cricket.
This will be the first ever pink ball day/night Test played in Dubai as well as the first for either nation.
The pink ball presents a few unknowns for both sides but we can be certain that more grass will be left on the pitch than normal to preserve the ball.
Last Time Out
Sri Lanka set up a win with a big first innings total of 482 powered by a big innings of 196 from Dimuth Karunaratne that put Pakistan under pressure early.
In reply Pakistan managed just 262 all out as Azhar Ali and Hari Sohail were the only batsmen to pass fifty while the Sri Lanka spinners dominated.
Sri Lanka’s second dig gave Pakistan a chance , they were knocked over for 96. Wahab Riaz took 4 for 41.
A hundred from Asad Shafiq got Pakistan close but they couldn’t get over the line.
Happy Hunting Ground
Azhar Ali leads the way in the current group having scored 1007 runs in nine Tests including a triple century.
Yasir Shah is level with Saeed Ajmal (37) as the all-time leading wicket taker in Tests at the venue.
Former Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq after they beat England in 2015 said: “It was tough to play [for England] on a last-day Dubai pitch, in the last innings, when the ball was turning from the rough and two quality bowlers were bowling.”
Ex-Australia coach Darren Lehmann said after his sides loss in 2014: “This is a very good cricket wicket and we didn’t adapt well enough and didn’t play well enough. When you are talking about learning how to play in these conditions we got beaten on the other side – with less spin.
“You would think it would spin more. We got beaten with straight balls, I think five or six dismissals throughout the game.”
Should be clear and hot as per usual in Dubai.
Pakistan should have the edge regardless of the toss but neither side would be overly eager to bat last on the Dubai surface.
Caffeine, naps, the carrot-and-stick principle and the strength of the pack…
Rory Burns remains grounded despite cementing his spot at the top of England’s order.
Paine claims Stokes is using Warner to spike sales of his new book.
Buttler feels invigorated after time off and chance to develop his batting under Trescothick.
Jofra Archer turned up the heat after Jos Buttler’s century but England settled for an underwhelming draw.
Ashley Giles has backed Joe Root to lead England’s next Ashes mission, saying regaining the urn in Australia represents “the Holy Grail”.
Mayank Agarwal scored his second double century as India dominated the second day of their Test against Bangladesh in Indore.
Stokes, Buttler and Archer will be captained by Steve Smith for Rajasthan.
Ben Stokes has no desire to be England captain, saying: “It’s just not one of those things I’m desperate to do.”
An England cricket fan talking about the Nineties, won’t be talking about a decade, but a phenomenon.