Ajmal puts England in a spin

2012-01-17 15:02
Saeed Ajmal (Gallo)
Dubai - Pakistan off-spinner Saeed Ajmal took a career-best seven wicket haul to destroy England's much vaunted batting line-up on the opening day of the first Test here on Tuesday.

The 34-year-old, whose claims of a mystery delivery surrounded the lead-up to the three-Test series, had figures of 7-55 which wrecked England to 192 all out on a slow turning pitch at the Dubai Stadium.

In reply Pakistan finished on 42-0, with openers Mohammad Hafeez (22) and Taufiq Umar (18) unbeaten. They trail by 150 runs with all ten wickets intact.

Ajmal, whose previous best of 6-42 came against the West Indies at Guyana last year, bowled with variety, unleashing a straight delivery bowled with a round-arm action which kept low, seemingly his mystery one he named 'teesra' (the third one).

His superb bowling kept rival batsmen guessing and destroyed England's hopes of a sound start, watched by a small crowd of 1500.

Only wicketkeeper batsman Matt Prior batted with defiance, scoring a brilliant 70 not out for his 19th half-century. This was England's lowest total in the last ten Tests since Australia bowled them out for 123 at Perth in 2010.

Ajmal dismissed Andrew Strauss (19) with the last delivery of his first over, the 19th of the innings, and then had Ian Bell (nought) out with the first ball of his next, before trapping Kevin Pietersen (two) leg before three balls later.

England went to lunch at a precarious 52-5.

Prior then added 39 for the sixth wicket with Eoin Morgan (24) before Ajmal struck again, dismissing Morgan and then Broad (eight) - both leg-before off miscued sweeps.

Prior then ensured England reached 130 - their lowest in a Test against Pakistan on two occasions - by adding a fighting 57 for the eighth wicket with Graeme Swann (34) before Ajmal took the last two of the three wickets.

Pakistan played two frontline spinners in Ajmal and left-armer Abdul Rehman, with Hafeez giving them an extra option of spin.

England may be regretting their decision to leave out the in-form Monty Panesar and play three seamers alongside off-spinner Graeme Swann.

Pakistan introduced spin as early as the sixth over through Hafeez, who was rewarded when England opener Alastair Cook edged his third delivery to wicket-keeper Adnan Akmal for just three.

Paceman Aizaz Cheema then dismissed Jonathan Trott (17), caught behind by a diving Adnan off a leg-side edge to leave England at 31-2.

Ajmal then bowled Strauss who went for a pull but missed the ball and lost his off-stump.

Bell was then caught behind off a straight delivery from Ajmal.

Pietersen survived a confident lbw appeal but was given out after Pakistan challenged the original decision.

Adnan, who took three catches behind the stumps, fumbled on two occasions, failing to stump Morgan when the batsman was on three and dropped Swann on eight - both off Ajmal.

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