ABU DHABI: Rival captains Misbahul Haq and Andrew Strauss expect tough work for bowlers on a batting-friendly pitch at Abu Dhabi Stadium where the second Test starts on Wednesday.
The two Tests played here were drawn with three double hundreds and two centuries, and the last one saw Pakistan letting Sri Lanka off by dropping seven catches in the second innings. Pakistan also drew with South Africa here.
But despite that Pakistan have edge with off-spinner Saeed Ajmal in good form, having taken a career-best 7-55 during his 10-wicket haul which helped his team win the first Test by 10 wickets in Dubai inside three days.
"Ajmal got 10 wickets which created so much pressure on England so I think that is really an edge for us but at the same time I think the nature of the pitch here will make it tough to get 20 wickets," said Haq on Tuesday.
Haq urged the bowlers to stick to discipline and basics.
"I think you have to come out hard and just bowl a disciplined line and bowl according to the weakness of the batsmen, and just try to exploit the conditions but I think it will be really really tough to get wickets here," said Haq.
Haq said his team was ready for a backlash from England, who have not lost a Test series since January 2009.
"There is no doubt that England, being the world number one team, will try their 100 percent best and stage a strong comeback. We are ready for them," said Haq, who has not lost a series since taking over as captain in October 2010.
Pakistan were likely to retain the winning combination, but if the pitch seems to offer initial pace they could replace paceman Aizaz Cheema with left-armer Junaid Khan.
England will wait on the fitness of paceman Chris Tremlett who has a sore back.
England captain Andrew Strauss agreed that the pitch looked good for batting.
"At the moment it looks a very good wicket, there's no doubt about that. We are expecting it to be very good wicket for batting," said Strauss, whose team has not lost two Tests in a row since beaten by South Africa in July 2008.
England have also managed to win just three times after going down 1-0 in a three-match series.
And Strauss realised it would be a tough challenge.
"It's a big challenge for us and one I personally really looking forward to. We clearly let ourselves down at Dubai, we got to hold up our hands and say there are no excuses for that," said Strauss who will open with Alastair Cook in their 100th innings.
About his own batting form which saw him dismissed for 19 and six in the first Test, Strauss said he hopes to overcome the slump.
"It's obviously disappointing and certainly not getting runs in the last game was disappointing for me but having been around the Test match scene for a while now I know form ebbs and flows and one innings can completely change both your perspective and others' perspective in how well you're playing.
"I do think I've been hitting the ball well and hopefully that means there's a nice recipe in place to go on and get a big score," said Strauss, who has scored only one hundred in the last 30 months, at Brisbane in 2010.
When asked whether Ajmal's bowling action, questioned by various quarters after the Dubai Test, could threaten the sense of harmony between the two teams, Strauss said: "Maybe, but you're not going to hear any discussion about it from us.
"It's not an issue for us, it's not something we're concerned about, we're far more concerned about coming onto the pitch and winning this game."
The third and final Test will be played in Dubai from February 3-7. Both teams will also play four one-day and three Twenty20 internationals.
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