Swann: 'If it goes five days I'll eat my hat'


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The Independent Online

After watching Azhar Ali grind out runs for nearly nine hours, England deserved a break. Azhar looked like a man at peace with his world, a man who likes to set out his stall and let others do as they will.

He played his maiden Test in England in 2010, before all the fuss started and even then it probably passed him by. In 20 Test matches, he has scored his runs at a shade over two runs an over, the sort of player whom the late, great Ken Barrington would have looked fondly on. No frills but no nonsense either. It was a big surprise when he gave a catch to short leg after making a career-best 157.

"The way Younis Khan and Azhar Ali batted has shown us the way to play," said Graeme Swann, doubtless relieved to have taken three late wickets, including that of Azhar. "They used the bat instead of their pads and Younis especially took the attack to the spinners. His century was one of the best I have seen for a long time."

And then he made an offer nobody was about to refuse. "The very fact that there is such a long time left takes the draw out of the equation," he said. "If it goes five days I will eat my hat.

"It's an absolute mountain to climb. Our batsmen have a point to prove to themselves and you guys as well," he said, meaning a critical press.

Australia beat India by 65 runs in the opening match of the Commonwealth Bank ODI Tri-Series in Melbourne. India were all out for 151 in reply to 216-5 in a contest reduced to 32 overs per side by rain.