Abu Dhabi: Big Picture
England's No. 1 ranking hangs heavily upon them after their 10-wicket defeat against Pakistan in the first Test in Dubai. If their first-innings capitulation was forgivable after a five-month lay-off from Test cricket, their collapse second time around was met with more consternation. The general perception was that this was one of England's worst batting displays for years.
The Sheikh Zayed Stadium, on the face of it, offers the chance of redemption. It has only staged two Tests and both finished in high-scoring draws. Pakistan and South Africa have both scored more than 500 in their first innings here so Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook, in their 100th innings together as an opening pair, have every chance to reach the landmark in style.