Pakistan v England Second Test Betting: Yasir must provide the sparkle

Pakistan v England 2nd Test betting preview
Moeen and Rashid are England's spin threat

Ed Hawkins reverts to the top bat markets in his search for value as the match odds give little away in Dubai from Thursday

"But there is no epiphany which suggests either are strong value. Certainly not Pakistan after that shambolic effort"

Recommended Bet
Back A Cook top England 1st innings bat at 4.03/1

Pakistan v England
Start time: 07.00
TV: live on Sky Sports

Pakistan lived up to their reputation as the game's great entertainers in the first Test in Abu Dhabi.

Okay, so it took them four-and-a-half days but what a show they almost put on. Their kamikaze second-innings batting to turn one of the dullest Tests ever to one of the most exciting was a credit.

Of course, we will now find it difficult to trust them even if Yasir Shah, the legspinner, is set to return.

Yasir said he could have been the difference between the sides at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium and he is probably right.

Spinner Bilal Asif, who is under the scanner for a suspect action, has been added to the squad. Batsman Azhar Ali has left the squad because of a family bereavement.

England will be feeling rather chuffed with themselves. They will claim that it was their skill and fortitude which gave them an unlikely victory chance on the fifth afternoon.

They are probably wrong. But as Waqar Younis said, Pakistan have given the tourists an unexpected fillip.

Alastair Cook's monumental effort aside, England will have been delighted by Adil Rashid's five second-innings wickets.

They will probably be unchanged, although Mark Wood is always vulnerable after such a heavy workload.

First-innings runs
There is a fair chunk of the history books that says we could get a repeat of the run fest of Abu Dhabi. The first-innings scores suggest otherwise, however. The average in the eight Tests played at the Dubai International Stadium is just 254.

A spate of low scores between October 2011 and January 2014 suggested a bowlers' paradise. Pakistan were twice knocked over for 99 by England and South Africa respectively while the hosts also managed only 165 versus Sri Lanka.

The last two Tests, however, have been good for batting. Pakistan and New Zealand both breached 400 in first-innings.

Match odds
Pakistan are 2.466/4, England 3.1511/5 and the draw is 3.613/5. That's pretty much how things were before a ball was bowled in Abu Dhabi. So what do we know about the two teams and what have we learnt?

Well, Pakistan remain unreliable. We learnt that they need Yasir to elevate themselves from the mediocre.

England were organised and gritty as expected. Crucially, though, they were able to avoid defeat in the first Test of an away series. They are almost always 1-0 down by this stage. So they are confident.

But there is no epiphany which suggests either are strong value. Certainly not Pakistan after that shambolic effort. The draw might be too big but we have to respect the first-innings scores.

If there is seam and swing for England they could force Pakistan into a corner again. They would make for a reluctant pick - we cannot yet be convinced by Moeen Ali and rash in in tandem with the ball - in a contest which lacks sparkle on the odds.

Top Pakistan runscorer
Younis Khan averages 70 in eight matches but he looked rusty in game one. Misbah-ul-Haq and Asad Shafiq both average in the 40s. Sarfraz Ahmed, the keeper, has the best record of the lot, though with two tons in three games. Shoaib Malik, the double centurion, is 4.57/2

Top England runscorer
Cook is 4.03/1 to notch with honours again. Joe Root, his one realistic rival, is the same price. Both are the most reliable of all the folks on show. Ian Bell is 5.04/1.

Recommended Bet
Back A Cook top England 1st innings bat at 4.03/1

Ed Hawkins P/L

2015: +£369.90
2014: +315.10
2013: +250.80
To £10 level stakes (unless otherwise stated), based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate.
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