Pitch report: Dubai Cricket Stadium
Evidence suggests one does not want to bat last on this track, which tends to spin early on anyway. But days four and five, it's very dangerous, and both sides have spinners who can take advantage of that.
<b>Established:</b> 2009<br><b>Capacity:</b> 25,000<br><b>Floodlights:</b> Yes<br><b>Ends:</b> Emirates Road End, Dubai Sports City End<br><b>Home Team:</b> Pakistan<br><b>Test history:</b> 5 Tests (3 home wins, 1 loss, 1 draw)<br><b>5 Tosses:</b> 5 batted first (1 win, 1 draw, 3 defeats)
<b>Overview</b><br>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.
<i>Reuters</i> 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.
<b>Last Time Out</b><br>It's only been a few months since the DSC last saw Test action, when South Africa walloped Pakistan by an innings and 92 runs, inside four days, in October 2013.
Pakistan chose to bat first, having won the first Test, and were quickly out for 99. Proteas spinner Imran Tahir took five wickets against his former countrymen, while Dale Steyn did the damage at the top of the order.
The Proteas then put on a massive 517 runs, following the adage of 'bat once, bat long' and skipper Graeme Smith scored a superb double century. AB de Villiers also added a big ton, but the rest of the order failed miserably as Saeed Ajmal took six wickets.
The spin dominance continued in Pakistan's second innings as they fell well short of overtaking the visitors, with Tahir bagging three and part-timer JP Duminy also removing three batsmen. Asad Shafiq resisted with 130, but the hosts were all out for 326.
<b>Happy Hunting Ground</b><br>Given there have only been five Tests at this ground, the pickings are relatively slim, but Azhar Ali and Younis Khan have the best batting records here.
Younis, who did well in the first Test in Abu Dhabi and scored a century, has two tons at this ground and averages 62. Mohammad Hafeez averages over 53 here, while skipper Misbah-ul-Haq has three fifties.
For Sri Lanka, the only player to have a century here is veteran Kumar Sangakkara, while skipper Angelo Mathews scored a fifty the one time he played here in the past.
Bowling-wise, spinner Saeed Ajmal is light years ahead in terms of wickets, and averages just a spot over 20, while Junaid Khan only has four wickets in two TEsts, illustrating the spin nature of the track. Rangana Herath is tops for Sri Lanka, with three wickets.
<b>They Said</b><br>SA skipper Graeme Smith on the slow wicket: "Once they got in and the ball got soft, it became difficult. We controlled the run-rate and they were never scoring at more than 2.5 to the over and we knew if we kept doing that, there was going to be one opportunity."
While spin wasn't found in Abu Dhabi, Misbah hoped that would change here: "It was a sort of a setback for both teams as regards spinners in Abu Dhabi, but I think the Dubai wicket will be different and spinners will get turn on the third day."
<b>Weather</b><br>Clear. And then some more blue skies, followed by no rain. But it won't be too sweltering, as it's 'winter' there, so only a mild 25 degrees every day.
<b>Conclusion</b><br>Evidence suggests one does not want to bat last on this track, which tends to spin early on anyway. But days four and five, it's very dangerous, and both sides have spinners who can take advantage of that.
But as Smith and De Villiers showed last October, if you get in and concentrate, there are big scores to be made, especially early on. But in general, it's not a high-scoring track, so a result should be found.
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