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

 

Dubai

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 is unflappable. 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, including 10 fours and a six. It is another surprise that he hit two other sixes in Test matches.

"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."

So it was, and if Azhar's was from a different drawer, that did not make it much further from the top. It was an innings for the circumstances, for Pakistan needed to eat time out of the match, both to ensure that England did not have enough of it left to reach a winning target and to needle them.

That they failed narrowly in both objectives suggested that there was still fight left in the England dressing room when there might have been none towards the end of a perplexing series and a crazy match.

"We came into this series full of hope, thinking we could win," said Swann. "But we have a chance to salvage something. For a long time it looked as though we wouldn't be able to do that but because of our perseverance with the ball we can."

If it has been a tough series for England, Swann has embodied the struggle in some ways. He has not matched the potency of the opposition spinners, while his colleague Monty Panesar, whom he praised unequivocally, has had better returns. The wickets have come but they have taken their time, as they did yesterday.

"Such is life sometimes," he said. "It's no great secret that they are riddled with right-handers which doesn't play into my court. If you are coming round the wicket and can attack the stumps, that's better for me.

"It has been hard because the right-handed players they have got are good players of spin. But they may have shown us how to bat against the spinners on this pitch."

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. "We know that if we're serious about No 1 and staying there we need to come to Asia and beat teams and we haven't done that in this series."

And there was the rub.

Facts: in figures

There have been 41 lbws in the series, two short of the record for a Test series of any length

34: England wrapped up Pakistan's final seven wickets for a paltry amount

157: Azhar Ali's highest Test innings is only his second Test century

36: The overnight score – for no wickets down – is England's highest opening partnership of the series

5: Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq has been out lbw five times this series, to four different bowlers – he has appealed five times and lost them all

News
US comedian Bill Mahr
people
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Sport
football
News
Rob Lowe
peopleRob Lowe hits out at Obama's snub of Benjamin Netanyahu
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Davies (let) says: 'Everybody thought we were having an affair. It was never true!'
people'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
News
Staff assemble outside the old City Road offices in London
mediaThe stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century at Britain's youngest paper
Life and Style
The Oliver twins, Philip and Andrew, at work creating the 'Dizzy' arcade-adventure games in 1988
techDocumentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Arts and Entertainment
Krall says: 'My hero player-singer is Elton John I used to listen to him as a child, every single record
music
News
Friends for life … some professionals think loneliness is more worrying than obesity
scienceSocial contact is good for our sense of wellbeing - but it's a myth that loneliness kills, say researchers
Arts and Entertainment
The Wu-Tang Clan will sell only one copy of their album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin
musicWu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own only copies of their latest albums
News
i100
Environment
Number so freshwater mussels in Cumbria have plummeted from up to three million in the 20th century to 500,000
environment
Life and Style
Models – and musicians – on the catwalk in Dior Homme for the men’s 2015/16 fashion show in Paris
fashionAt this season's Paris shows, various labels played with the city boys' favourite
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

Diana Krall interview

The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

Pinstriped for action

A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

Michael Calvin's Last Word

How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us