England enjoy positive day despite profligacy


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The Independent Online

England grafted hard but paid for missed chances too as they had to settle for seven Pakistani wickets on day one of the second Test at the Zayed Cricket Stadium.

The best efforts of a four-man attack, in which Stuart Broad (three for 47) was the most deserving, were rewarded with a stumps score of 256 for seven after Pakistan had chosen to bat first.

But it could have been better for England if they had held their catches.

Two drops, one barely a half-chance, were not costly. But two more, James Anderson and Andrew Strauss at slip to reprieve Misbah-ul-Haq (83no) and then Adnan Akmal, made a difference.

Broad prised out two frontline batsmen in early afternoon with some disciplined and skilful bowling on a surface more conducive to spin than seam.

There was turn from the outset this morning once England called on Monty Panesar, and then Graeme Swann (three for 52).

Panesar was into the action first, for the 10th over, in his 40th Test and his first since the start of the 2009 Ashes in Cardiff.

Despite a nervy start as he, like Swann, dropped short too often in his early overs, it was evident almost immediately both would be in the game if they could get it right.

Ironically, both Swann and Panesar struck with deliveries which did not turn - but batsman error stemmed from doubts sown by spin against the Pakistan openers.

Swann had beaten Taufeeq Umar with turn and bounce past the outside edge on the front-foot defence before the left-hander shouldered arms in the same over and was bowled off-stump.

Panesar dropped Mohammad Hafeez, a sharp return catch low to his left. But that was irrelevant after the very next ball went on with the arm and bowled the same batsman middle-and-leg on the back foot.

England's decision to pick two spinners and just two frontline seamers, as they try to get back in this three-match series following their hammering in Dubai, was already looking sound.

But Broad proved his worth by taking two wickets for two runs, again both bowled, in 13 balls soon after lunch.

They were close to action replays too, the ball snaking back into Younus Khan and then Azhar Ali - bowling the former off his pads and the latter through the gate.

The second success came with an especially good delivery which offered to swing away before jagging back just enough.

Two new batsmen therefore joined forces with just one run between them.

Misbah's response was to hit Panesar for successive sixes from the crease, and Asad Shafiq (58) also cleared the ropes when he went up the wicket to the slow left-armer.

There was much earnest defence between the big shots, though, as Pakistan's fifth-wicket pair adopted a necessarily patient approach in an important stand which would realise exactly 100.

They had moments of fortune too.

Shafiq got only a thin inside-edge to save himself when he was up the wicket again and went through with another attempted big hit at Swann. Then, on 30, Misbah edged Panesar just wide of slip - where Anderson was unable to react quickly enough to get more than fingertips to the ball.

Shafiq pressed on to a 103-ball 50, survived on 53 when Alastair Cook was not quite alert to a bat-pad opportunity off Swann at short-leg but could add only another five before the same bowler had him lbw sweeping - a decision which stood after DRS, even though ball appeared to be almost entirely striking back leg outside the line of off-stump.

The most obvious of England's missed opportunities was just round the corner, and it came courtesy of their captain when he failed to hold a regulation chance at slip to see Akmal off for a duck in the first over with the second new ball.

The wicketkeeper made only nine and helped Misbah add 13 before Broad got another one to angle in for lbw - but had he gone for nought, England would have had more momentum to attack the tail with the ball still hard.

Instead, they had to wait for the return of Swann for their final wicket when he revisited his old party trick of immediate success - bowling Abdur Rehman with the first delivery of his new spell. Yet unquestionably, Misbah was the man who gave the opposition most cause for regret by chiselling out a 142-ball 50 which included just two off-driven fours to go with those two early sixes.

For good measure, he then hit Panesar for successive sixes for the second time in his innings - in the last over of a well-contested day.