England slump to whitewash after third test

Pakistan 99 & 365 beat England 141 & 252 by 71 runs

England's miserable Test tour of the Middle East reached an appropriately sorry conclusion today with a 71-run defeat, and resulting 3-0 whitewash, against Pakistan.

England had to banish memories of their previous failings here to have any chance of pulling off the second-highest fourth-innings chase in their history.

In the end, despite Matt Prior's late defiance, they did not even come close on the way to a four-day beating at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.

For the record, they mustered 252 all out in pursuit of 324 as Saeed Ajmal (four for 67) and Umar Gul (four for 61) sentenced them to their first series whitewash since the Ashes of 2006/07 which curtailed Andrew Flintoff's long-term captaincy ambitions and hastened the end of Duncan Fletcher's coaching tenure.

No such watershed is in order this time, after England's first series since completing their march to the top of the International Cricket Council world rankings.

Their shortcomings, with bat but not ball, have nonetheless been all too evident over the past three weeks - and it is a measure of their fallibility that they should contrive to lose this last Test after having Pakistan 44 for seven on the first morning.

The hosts recovered to 99 all out, yet this is the first example since 1907 of a team winning a Test match after falling short of three figures at their first attempt.

So often in this series, England's out-of-form batsmen have simply been unable to establish themselves at the crease in these alien climes against Pakistan spinners Ajmal and Abdur Rehman.

The final act was merely a variation on that theme, almost everyone coming through the 'danger period' England identified at the start of each batsman's innings only to then get out in pairs just when it seemed the habitual trend of failure might conceivably be bucked.

The afternoon wickets of Kevin Pietersen, Alastair Cook, Ian Bell and Eoin Morgan followed those of Andrew Strauss and Jonathan Trott this morning.

Ajmal was the chief tormentor of England's top order, bowling in tandem for much of the second session with Rehman - who was unchanged for 30 overs.

Gul then accelerated England's descent to defeat.

But it was the slow left-armer who struck the first blow when Strauss, who had already survived a straightforward caught-behind chance off Gul, went without addition lbw on the back foot.

Trott then fell shortly before lunch, sweeping Ajmal straight to deep backward-square.

Cook's luck was in during an ultra-patient 187-ball 49 which took more than four hours.

But England needed much more than a touch of good fortune if their out-of-form batsmen were to achieve even qualified redemption on this fair pitch.

Cook passed a notable personal milestone when, with his 22nd run, he became the second-youngest batsman in cricket history to reach 6,000 in Tests.

He ought to have gone last night, dropped at third slip off Gul on just four, and this morning was put down on 31 by Gul himself after mis-sweeping Rehman into the leg-side deep.

He was also the batsman on strike when Pakistan squandered their final DRS option, Ajmal reviewing an lbw for an off-break that pitched outside leg-stump.

England had one precious review still available, after Strauss used up the first one to no avail. But it was to be no use to any of their frontline batsmen.

Pietersen hinted at much better when he went up the wicket to Rehman and hit him for a straight four and then six in the same over - shots that raised stoic England's scoring rate to almost two runs an over.

But Ajmal, scourge of the tourists with his doosras in the first Test here, out-thought both Pietersen and Cook with conventional off-breaks this time.

He bowled Pietersen between bat and pad, on the front-foot defence, from round the wicket - and then had Cook, trying to push his 50th run to leg, very well-caught at slip by a diving Younus Khan.

Bell and Morgan appeared to tame the spinners with the old ball, only to fall in quick succession when Misbah-ul-Haq turned back to Gul's pace.

It was a lack of that which did for Bell, embarrassingly mistiming a cut for a simple catch at cover - and then Gul produced a fine delivery to find Morgan's edge for a caught-behind on the back foot.

England had lost two big wickets for just three runs for the second time in the innings, a statistic they could ill afford if they were to get anywhere near such a tough target.

All but the most fanciful hopes of that were gone by tea - and although Prior and the tail tried to salvage some pride with a counter-attack, it was little more than a token effort from a team who may not now still be top of that Test table when the annual awards are handed out at the start of April.

Scoreboard: Pakistan v England

Pakistan beat England by 71 runs

England Second Innings

A J Strauss lbw b Rehman 26
A N Cook c Younus Khan b Ajmal 49
I J L Trott c Rehman b Ajmal 18
K P Pietersen b Ajmal 18
I R Bell c Shafiq b Umar Gul 10
E J G Morgan c Akmal b Umar Gul 31
M J Prior not out 49
S C J Broad c Taufeeq Umar b Umar Gul 18
G P Swann c Shafiq b Umar Gul 1
J M Anderson c Younus Khan b Ajmal 9
M S Panesar lbw b Rehman 8

Extras b4 lb8 nb3 15

Total (97.3 overs) 252

Fall: 1-48 2-85 3-116 4-119 5-156 6-159 7-196 8-203 9-237

Bowling: Umar Gul 20 5 61 4
Cheema 4 0 9 0
Mohammad Hafeez 5 2 6 0
Rehman 41.3 10 97 2
Ajmal 27 9 67 4