England stunned by Pakistan in Dubai

Tue, 17 Jan 13:30:00 2012

England suffered an inauspicious start to their tour of the UAE after Pakistan dominated day one of the first Test match in Dubai courtesy of a seven-wicket haul from spinner Saeed Ajmal.

Kevin Pietersen England Pakistan - 0

Andrew Strauss won the toss and elected to bat first, but England were promptly skittled out for a meagre 192 as only Matt Prior impressed with an unbeaten 72 while Ajmal starred with stunning figures of seven for 55.

After Prior was left stranded, Pakistan proceeded to bat to stumps unscathed with 42 on the board, and the hosts hold the ascendancy after what was a dismal day for Strauss’s men.

The tourists had already lost Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott in the first hour before the intervention of Ajmal, who saw off Strauss, Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen in quick succession.

Ajmal had taunted England with talk of a new mystery delivery in the build-up to this tough examination of their new world-beating credentials. Whether the off-spinner was profiting from those mind games was a moot point. But either way, clever disguise of his off-breaks, doosras - and maybe even a 'teesra' or two - proved too much for England.

Cook soon departed for three to only the third delivery of spin after Pakistan had turned for the first time to one of their slow bowlers in just the sixth over. England chose to select just Graeme Swann as their spin option, with Pietersen also able to bowl part-time off-breaks.

Pakistan, meanwhile, named two frontline slow bowlers. It was neither of them, but instead occasional off-spinner Mohammad Hafeez, who struck. Cook went back to cut, and a small amount of turn was enough to take the edge for caught-behind.

Strauss was joined by Trott, who registered England's first three boundaries before going too far across to Aizaz Cheema to edge behind down the leg-side for 17. But it was the introduction of Ajmal, Pakistan's fifth bowler used at 42 for two, which spelled real danger for England.

Strauss (19) paid for an apparent misjudgement, attempting to pull off the front foot and bowled by a ball which did not seem to be short enough for the shot.

Bell then went for a first-ball duck, in Ajmal's next over, pushing forward in defence only to get a thin edge behind to a delivery that appeared to have spin imparted but barely moved off the straight.

Three balls later, Pietersen had to go lbw for just two - after the series's first DRS ruling - to one that snaked past the outside edge and hit him low on the front pad.

Eoin Morgan temporarily stemmed the flow of wickets with a composed innings against the spin, until he failed to successfully execute an ill-advised sweep shot and was trapped lbw by the rampant Ajmal.

Stuart Broad failed to heed the warning, and he followed in near-identical fashion to Ajmal, attempting a rash sweep on a pitch in conditions demanding the batsmen play straight.

Ajmal, whose previous best figures were six for 42, bagged his fifth five-wicket haul in Test matches as England were shot out in the last session of the day.

England were reduced to 94 for seven at one stage before Prior and Swann (34) stemmed the rot with a defiant 57-run stand for the eighth wicket.

In reply, Pakistan openers Hafeez (22) and Taufeeq Umar (18) survived 15 overs to finish on 42-0 at the close, 150 runs in arrears.

It all amounted to a dismal day for England to begin their tour in earnest and, as Pakistan’s confidence burgeoned, the world’s top-ranked Test side duly wilted. If Andy Flower's men needed a reality check at the start of the tour, they certainly got one.

Dan Quarrell - on Twitter @danquarrell / Eurosport

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