DUBAI: Mercurial Pakistan have done it once again.
In what can be called a historic win against top-ranked England, Pakistan cruised to a compelling victory when England collapsed for 160. Pakistan were left with just 15 runs to chase to seal the match on the third day of the first test.
Opener Mohammad Hafeez hit three fours to reach the meagre 15-run target, after he walked on the crease with partner Taufeeq Umar.
Spinner Saeed Ajmal continued his glorious run in the match, finishing at 10-97 – his second 10-wicket haul in Tests. Spin partner Abdul Rehman recorded a 3-37.
But it was paceman Umar Gul who rocked England on Thursday with figures of 4-63. The 27-year-old fast bowler dismissed Andrew Strauss (six) before lunch and then accounted for Alastair Cook (five) and Kevin Pietersen (nought) in his hostile nine-over first spell on a spin-friendly Dubai Stadium pitch.
Pakistan notched the required 15 runs in 3.4 overs to hand England their first defeat in 10 Tests, since losing to Australia at Perth in the 2010 Ashes. The second Test starts in Abu Dhabi from January 25.
England’s batsmen, wrecked by Ajmal’s career-best 7-55 in their first innings of 192, were again clueless against the spin and played some rash shots as they sought to score runs on the pace of Gul.
Jonathan Trott top-scored with 49, but fell to an irresponsible shot, trying to force a short delivery from Gul and being caught by wicket-keeper Adnan Akmal, who finished the match with seven catches.
Trott, who passed the boundary of 2,000 runs when he reached 18 in his 24th Test, hit six boundaries during his 111-ball knock but became Gul’s 150th wicket in his 41st Test.
Misbah surprised at exhilarating win
Pakistan skipper Misbahul Haq admitted he had not expected to win so comfortably. “We didn’t expect that it would come so easily,” he said. “Ajmal put us in a strong position with his seven wickets in the first innings and we batted well to take a good lead.”
Strauss expressed frustration over his side’s abject surrender. “Obviously it’s disappointing to lose in this manner,” he said. “We lost five early wickets and it’s disappointing to bat like this but we are not going to press the panic button and will show resilience in the second match.”
England had another disastrous start as Strauss was adjudged caught behind, pushing Gul to the leg side and seeing the ensuing edge well taken by the wicket-keeper. Strauss instantly challenged the verdict but was left to trudge off the field after television umpire Steve Davis of Australia upheld the original decision.
Soon after the lunch break, Gul produced a sharp rising delivery that caught Cook in two minds as the left-hander gloved it to Adnan, who had no trouble in gathering it.
Pietersen, who has yet to score big on this tour, made it 25-3 when he hooked a Gul bouncer straight into the hands of deep square-leg fielder Abdul Rehman, leaving England in more trouble at 25-3.
Ajmal then got in on the act when he trapped Ian Bell plumb in front of the wicket for four. Bell wasted England’s second referral as television replays showed he was hit on the back leg, in line with the stumps.
Rehman ended a fifth-wicket partnership of 39 by dismissing Eoin Morgan (14) caught behind, while Ajmal trapped Matt Prior to leave England at 87-7. Stuart Broad (17) and Graeme Swann (39) delayed the inevitable by putting on 48 for the eighth wicket before Rehman dismissed Broad and Chris Tremlett off successive deliveries.
Ajmal took the last wicket by getting Swann caught, much to the delight of his teammates and the few hundred people in the stands.
In the morning, Adnan had boosted Pakistan’s lead with a gutsy second Test half-century. Adnan scored a career-best 61, adding another 50 runs after Pakistan resumed at 288-7.
Adnan, who hit eight boundaries during his 129-ball knock, put on a 30-run stand for the ninth wicket with Ajmal, who made 12. His previous best of 53 came against Bangladesh in Dhaka last month. Swann had Adnan stumped to finish with figures of 4-107.
The second Test starts in Abu Dhabi from January 25, while the third will again be played here from February 3-7.
A slideshow of pictures from the match can be viewed here.