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'Abu Dhabi a nightmare for fast bowlers'

Press Trust Of India
Jan 26, 2012 at 09:59pm IST

Karachi: Former Pakistan fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar says the cricket ground in Abu Dhabi, where Pakistan and England are engaged in a Test match, does not suit fast bowlers much.

"The ground is sandy, thick and hard and it is a nightmare for the fast bowlers to bowl there," Akhtar said.

He felt that the spinners, though, can extract sharp turn and bounce if they are willing to push the ball through instead of giving it flight.

Abu Dhabi a 'nightmare' for fast bowlers: Akhtar

Pakistan and England are currently playing the second Test of a three-match series at Abu Dhabi.

Akhtar, who is appearing on the newly-launched PTV Sports as an expert for the series, felt the ongoing second Test was wide open after the second day's play on Thursday.

England were comfortably sitting on 166-1, but lost four wickets in the last session of the second day. Off-spinner Saeed Ajmal claimed three of those wickets as England ended the day at 207-5, still trailing Pakistan's first-innings score of 257 by 50 runs.

"It is in an intriguing stage. Pakistan must not relax in the first session tomorrow and try to take the remaining five English wickets for as many less runs as possible. If England get a lead of even 60 to 70 runs, it will become a difficult situation for Pakistan," said Akhtar.

He said Pakistan's best spinner - Saeed Ajmal - had made the mistake of thinking he would get wickets in Abu Dhabi by bowling the way he had done in Dubai.

"When he got wickets, it was when he pushed the ball through and depended less on his doosra and more on his off-break ball. Players have to evolve with every match taking into consideration the conditions and weather at a particular time."

Akhtar pointed out that when the Pakistani spinners tried to flight the ball, the England batsmen milked runs off them.

"That was their mistake, but they have now realized what needs to be done on this pitch," added the pacer.

Akhtar said Umar Gul looked tired, rusty and seemed to be carrying niggles when he bowled on Thursday.

"I think Misbah-ul-Haq needs to use him in short spells, that is where he is most effective. As it is bowling on the Abu Dhabi ground is not easy for the pacers at all because of the ground conditions where you need to have extra layers of protection in your shoe," he said.

Akhtar who retired from all cricket during the 2011 World Cup, also felt that Pakistan needed to do some homework on how they used the Umpire Decision Review System, insisting the role of the wicket-keeper was very important in advising his captain when to take reviews.

On Thursday Pakistan didn't take a review when replays showed Jonathan Trott was out leg-before, while in two other instances they wasted their reviews.

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