ABU DHABI: England opener Alastair Cook missed a century by six runs and Jonathan Trott made a half-century before Pakistan hit back with four wickets in the last session in the second Test here on Thursday.
Cook was trapped leg-before-wicket off spinner Saeed Ajmal for 94, his fourth nervous ninety dismissal and added an invaluable 139 for the second wicket with Trott (74) to take England to 207-5 in reply to Pakistan’s 275.
Ajmal took three of those last four wickets, dismissing Kevin Pietersen (14) and Eoin Morgan (three) in the last over for the addition of four runs to bring Pakistan back into the game after Cook and Trott had foiled their bowling.
At the close on the second day, Ian Bell was unbeaten on four with England needing another 50 runs to overhaul Pakistan’s first innings total on an Abu Dhabi pitch that is helping bowlers.
England, aiming to level the three-Test series after their 10-wicket defeat in the first match in Dubai and maintain their world numer one ranking, will look to out-of-form Bell and the rest to give them a lead on Friday.
Pakistan, meanwhile, will hope that Ajmal, who has figures of 3-67, can bowl England out early.
Cook and Trott had negotiated the dangerman Ajmal well, before both fell to spinners.
Trott missed a turning delivery from Abdul Rehman that spun across his bat and hit the off-stump. He hit seven boundaries off 158 balls.
Cook looked certain to reach his 20th century as he hit Ajmal for his 10th boundary to move to within a stroke of the milestone but two balls later he missed a ball that kept straight and hit him in front of the stumps.
Trott had survived three confident leg-before appeals, two of which were unsuccessfully challenged by Pakistan.
Both completed their half-centuries before tea and looked set to bring England level with Pakistan’s total before the Pakistani spinners led by Ajmal hit back.
When England began their innings, Cook and Strauss were opening together for the 100th time, but the captain’s early fall for 11 meant they were unable to mark the milestone with a big stand.
Pakistan introduced Hafeez in the seventh over and were rewarded with the wicket of Strauss, who edged a sharp turner that flew off his pad to Asad Shafiq at short leg.
In the morning, Stuart Broad completed bowling figures of 4-47 to bowl out Pakistan, who added just one run to their overnight score of 256-7.
James Anderson (2-46) ably assisted Broad as they took 16 deliveries to wrap up Pakistan’s innings, the last three wickets falling within just seven balls.
Misbahul Haq added just one to his overnight score of 83 before being trapped leg-before by Broad.
Misbah hit five boundaries and four sixes during his 173-ball knock.
From the other end Anderson, wicket-less on Wednesday, trapped Ajmal and then had the last man, Junaid Khan, caught by Graeme Swann to finish off the innings.
Off-spinner Swann finished with 3-52.
The third and final Test will be played in Dubai from February 3-7. Both teams will also play four one-day and three Twenty20 internationals.