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 of the second day.
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 for five in reply to Pakistan’s 275.
Ajmal took three of those last four wickets, dismissing Kevin Pietersen before getting rid of Eoin Morgan in the last over to bring Pakistan back into the game after Cook and Trott had foiled their bowling. At 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 – a result that would maintain their world number one ranking – will look to out-of-form Bell and the rest to give them a lead today.
Cook, meanwhile, remained hopeful that England’s lower-order, which has a good reputation, will help them earn the lead.
“I wouldn’t say the advantage was thrown away,” said Cook. “We’re only 50 behind and we’ve got Bell and Prior, who are excellent players, at the crease now and our lower order did well in Dubai. In an ideal world, we’d be sitting here two or three down but that’s what cricket is. It does go up and down and credit to Pakistan, who bowled well in that last half hour.”
Gul praises bowlers
Pakistan paceman Umar Gul, who went wicketless, also praised his bowlers.
“We had a good comeback, especially the two spinners did well for that,” said Gul of Ajmal and Abdul Rehman. “We had a plan but it didn’t work out in the morning, but did in the afternoon. This match is open now and we have good chances to keep them down. Even if they take the lead, we want it to be minimal.”
Cook and Trott had negotiated dangerman Ajmal well, before both fell to spinners. Trott missed a turning delivery from Rehman that spun across his bat and hit the off-stump.
Pakistan’s tail fails to wag
In the morning, Stuart Broad completed bowling figures of four for 47 to bowl out Pakistan, who added just one run to their overnight score of 256 for seven.
James Anderson (two for 46) ably assisted Broad as they took 16 deliveries to wrap up Pakistan’s innings, the last three wickets falling within seven balls including Misbah for 83.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 27th, 2012.
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