Late wickets boost England but Pakistan in control

 

England spent day two of the first Test playing catch-up, and eventually eking out seven Pakistan wickets, at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.

Three England bowlers were rewarded for their labours with two wickets each as they tried to limit the damage done by faulty batting yesterday.

The upshot, by stumps, was nonetheless a Pakistan total of 288 for seven and a deficit of 96 and counting for Andrew Strauss' world number one team.

If day one of this three-match series had featured an unscripted helter-skelter collapse, as off-spinner Saeed Ajmal spooked England with his disguise and variations, round two delivered the attritional cricket so universally predicted here.

Mohammad Hafeez (88) and Taufeeq Umar (58) laid the foundation for more Pakistan gains on this fair pitch - and Misbah-ul-Haq (52) extended the advantage - while England toiled manfully but missed a clutch of half-chances which might have brought the contest back into the balance.

Stuart Broad revived their hopes fleetingly, and two late wickets did likewise.

But for the most part, England had to reap what they had sown with their brittle batting 24 hours earlier.

Hafeez and Taufeeq's stand of 114 helped Pakistan move on serenely for much of the morning from 42 without loss overnight.

There were nine boundaries each in the openers' twin fifties, Taufeeq quickest to the milestone.

He was most impressive driving on the front foot, and Hafeez made a point of preventing Graeme Swann from settling into a rhythm - taking an off-side four and a slog-swept six from one of the off-spinner's overs.

Hafeez did have two lives.

First, Ian Bell narrowly failed to run him out on 44.

A direct hit with one stump to aim at, from square leg, would have done the trick as Hafeez was sent back after setting off for a single off Chris Tremlett.

Bell did pretty much everything right, but missed his target by a whisker.

Then, eight runs later, Hafeez mis-pulled Broad to wide mid-on where Tremlett failed to hang on to a one-handed chance diving full length to his right.

But Broad's disappointment was soothed immediately when, next ball and after a change of strike for the single, he bowled Taufeeq with a fine delivery which held its line from round the wicket and hit off-stump.

He then made short work of Azhar Ali, pushing forward in defence and getting a faint edge behind to give Broad his second wicket at a personal cost of only five runs.

England grafted in vain for much of the afternoon, but did finally see the back of Hafeez when he missed a sweep at Swann and was hit just in line with off-stump - proven by DRS, at the behest of Pakistan.

It seemed that would be as good as it got for the tourists before tea, until Jonathan Trott delivered a bonus wicket.

Brought on in a holding role as England eked out their resources for the session, Trott took his first overseas wicket in his first over of this series when he got one to nip into Younus Khan off the seam for the seventh lbw dismissal of the match.

Misbah prolonged England's struggles after tea, though, in a 140-ball half-century.

He lost Asad Shafiq to a fine catch by wicketkeeper Matt Prior, in front of Strauss at slip off James Anderson with the second new ball.

But Adnan Akmal survived on nine when Kevin Pietersen failed to hold on, one-handed, to a poke to cover off Tremlett.

He and his captain then duly gave England a little more cause for regret over yesterday's frailties, in an unhurried half-century stand as Pakistan continued to grind out their domination.

But a marginal DRS process went England's way before stumps, a big off-break from Swann hitting Misbah just in line with off-stump and tracked to hit leg - and then when Anderson nipped through Abdur Rehman's defences with the last ball of the day, the tourists were back in the equation.

PA

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