Batting troubles shock Anderson
James Anderson admitted he was as surprised as anyone by the dramatic torrent of wickets on the opening day of the third Test in Dubai.
England reached stumps on 104 for six, having dismissed Pakistan for just 99 inside the opening two sessions after the hosts had chosen to bat first on a blameless pitch.
Anderson and new ball partner Stuart Broad were chiefly responsible for Pakistan’s initial demise as they returned respective figures of 3-35 and 4-36.
Yet England’s subsequent struggles with the bat ensured Anderson was pressed back into action before the close, as a nightwatchman following the dismissal of Matt Prior.
“It was probably a good day to be watching, but a pretty nerve-wracking one for the players,” said Anderson.
“We were delighted with the start we got with the ball, and the way we kept creating pressure throughout the innings.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t get off to a great start with the bat - and it looks like it’s going to be a battle for the next few days. It’s going to be a really tight match.”
Asked if he had expected to see 16 wickets fall on day one, he replied: “Certainly not, no. It looked a really good batting pitch when we turned up this morning.
“It was drier than the pitch in the first Test and I think it did a little bit during the day. It didn’t do huge amounts, but both teams bowled really well.”
On his and Broad’s performance, Anderson added: “We weren’t expecting it do a great deal, we were just looking to tie things up and create pressure through maidens, thinking that the spinners would probably do a good job on there.
“The way it turned out, I thought we both bowled nicely and got the rewards for putting the ball in the right areas.
“When Stuart kept picking up the wickets, I was trying to just bowl dots at the other end and that’s generally the way it goes. Some days he does the same job for me.”
Skipper Andrew Strauss, unbeaten on 41 heading into day two, and Kevin Pietersen, who appeared in fine touch before falling for 32 to a marginal lbw decision, were the only England batsmen to make any real impression today.
The remainder of the top seven contributed just 24 runs between them, but Anderson refuted the idea that he and his fellow bowlers had been let down.
“It’s very hard,” he said. “They have bowled fantastically well, Pakistan, today and throughout the series.
“All our guys are confident - but they’re probably just not spending the time at the crease they would like, and Pakistan are bowling some really good balls to get us out. It’s as simple as that.
“They’ve put us under a lot of pressure, it’s just unfortunate that we’ve not made the runs our batsmen probably expect of themselves.”
The upshot is that England can still hope to press into a decidedly useful lead tomorrow.
“I’ve got to hang around as much as I can and bat for Straussy,” said Anderson.
“He’s batted a while on that pitch and is used to the pace of it, so he can maybe score a bit more freely.
“If we can get 20 or 30 ahead, with (Graeme) Swann and Broad to come, I think we could be in a really good position.”
Pakistan coach Mohsin Khan naturally hopes for something nearer parity, suggesting “only six runs!” as his preferred option.
“Obviously, we don’t want to give England a big lead,” he said.
“Even though we are 2-0 up, we have a lot of respect for the English talent and calibre with bat and ball.
“I’ve been asking the bowlers and batsmen to take responsibility, and I’m very happy to see that - if one way or another we are not doing the job - the other half is covering that up.”