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After winning the series 2-0 against England, Pakistan is focused to achieve a clean sweep. Pakistan has never inflicted a whitewash against England nor have they won any series 3-0 away from home.  It’s a golden chance for the team to win this feat at their favourite ground of Dubai, and for Misbah, to achieve which no other captain not even the great Imran Khan could accomplish.

[caption id="attachment_229" align="alignright" width="300"]Pakistan batsmen kept on falling one after another and the whole team was in pavilion for 99 runs (Photo: AFP) Pakistan batsmen kept on falling one after another and the whole team was in pavilion for 99 runs (Photo: AFP)[/caption]

But scoring less than 100 runs in first innings has always resulted in their defeat; this historical fact haunts Pakistan’s chances in winning this one.

Pakistan decided to bat first after winning the toss on an apparently batting friendly wicket but the English bowlers exploited the conditions similar to Old Trafford or Manchester and booked Pakistani side for a total of just 99 runs.
Asad Shafique scored 45 runs, Anderson got three wickets and Stuart Broad  four while Monti Panesar got two wickets.

Surprisingly, in a series which has so far been dominated by spinners, fast bowlers held sway on the first day.

This is the fifth time when Pakistan has scored less than 100 runs batting first in a Test and they have faced defeat on almost all such occasions. The match played in June 1954 at Lord’s was different, however. In spite of getting all out at 87 runs in first innings, Pakistan did not lose the match. The match was saved for Pakistan by rain, not by any player, which affected the first three days of the Test. Back then after third day of the match, a day was reserved for rest and then two more days were played.  On that occasion rain devoured the first three days before the rest day and when England invited Pakistan to bat first, they got out for just 87 runs.

Although Pakistan replied strongly by getting England out for just 117 runs, thanks to the fabulous bowling performance of Fazal Mehmood and Khan Muhammad, the match did not end in any result because of the washed away first three days. Pakistani batsmen played responsibly in the second innings and scored 121 runs for the loss of three wickets and that’s how the first contest between England and Pakistan concluded. This was the series when Pakistan clinched the historic victory at Oval and the series resulted in draw.

[caption id="attachment_228" align="alignright" width="300"]Pakistan’s performance in both Tests of Sharjah in 2002 was worst for both team and captain Waqar Younis (Photo: Reuters) Pakistan’s performance in both Tests of Sharjah in 2002 was worst for both team and captain Waqar Younis (Photo: Reuters)[/caption]

Pic caption: Worst moments for captain Waqar Younis; the performance by Pakistan in both Tests in 2002 at Sharjah was dismal

Besides this occasion, every time Pakistan scored less than hundred in first innings of a Test, they had to face defeat. All the other instances of collapsing without getting into three figures in the first innings of a Test happened in the first decade of 21st century.  First, in 2002 when Pakistan lost against Australia, that too was in UAE at Sharjah. Pakistan scored only 59 in first innings and performed even worse in the second scoring only 53 and lost the game in the worst possible way. All in all this series was a nightmare for Pakistan as they suffered a whitewash from Australia.

Then in July 2009, Pakistan perished for 90 runs against Sri Lanka at Colombo in first innings and later on were beaten by Sri Lanka. Although Pakistan amassed 320 runs with the help of Fawad Alam’s 168 runs innings, no other batsman besides Younis Khan stood by him and a target of 171 runs was easy for Sri Lanka which they achieved by losing just three wickets.

Then in 2010, in the infamous tour of England, Pakistan were all out for just 72 runs in the first innings of Birmingham test and lost it eventually by nine wickets, giving England an unassailable lead of 2-0. This tour became fame due to the spot-fixing scandal and the magnificent victories of England were just the spoilers.

Besides collapsing like a decaying building in first innings, there have been several occasions when Pakistani batsmen couldn’t get the team total into three figures and gifted away the match to opposition. Who can forget the Perth test, 1981, against Australia; yes the one famous for the row between Pakistani captain Javed Miandad and Australian fast bowler Dennis Lillie. In that match Dennis Lillie did the childish act of kicking Javed and nearly got beaten by his bat, but more sadly Pakistan got out at just 62 runs in reply of the first innings total of 180 by Australia. None of the Pakistani batsmen, barring Sarfaraz Nawaz (26), could get into double figures. Openers Mudassir Nazar and Rizwan-uz-Zaman went out for duck, Javed Miandad for six, Majid Khan, Wasim Raja and Imran Khan returned back to pavilion only for three, four and four runs respectively. This pack of batsmen received a huge target of 543 runs in second innings against which they perished at 256 runs and Australia were victorious by 286 runs.

Moreover, one of the Pakistan’s worst performances in second innings was in Faisalabad test in October 1997. Pakistani bowlers did a fine job to limit the South African total under 250 in both innings, and batsmen too batted well and scored 308 runs in first innings. But the meagre target of 146 runs proved too much for them and they fell for just 92 runs. Batsmen like Saeed Anwar and Ejaz Ahmed bit the dust without scoring any run. The Protean hero was Shaun Pollock who took five wickets.

In the ill-fated tour of England in 2010 where the spot fixing scandal not only tarnished the team’s image, their overall performance was pretty ordinary too. It can be determined from their scorecards. In the four Tests played, three times Pakistan were bowled out for a total of less than 100 and lost every time.

Let’s see if Pakistan can change the course of history on a ground where they haven’t lost any match. Will they be able to keep this record?
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