Ajmal runs through England

Pakistan spinner takes seven wickets on opening day

By Graeme Mair - Twitter: @gmair 1.   Last Updated: 18/01/12 11:52am

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Saeed Ajmal claimed career-best figures of 7-55 as England were bowled out for 192 on the opening day of the series against Pakistan in Dubai.

Ajmal's haul included five lbws and only Matt Prior, with an unbeaten 70, resisted for long during an innings lasting 72.3 overs.

England's final total represented a recovery having been 43-5 in the morning after Ajmal's initial burst of three wickets in five balls, and then 94-7 in mid-afternoon.

Prior, who found the boundary only three times in his 154-ball contribution, forged a 57-run, eighth-wicket stand with Graeme Swann to at least stretch England's innings into the final session.

Pakistan openers Mohammad Hafeez (22no) and Taufeeq Umar (18no) reached 42-0 in reply by stumps.

Sparse

Ian Bell and Stuart Broad were both passed fit after injury scares in the build-up and England opted against Monty Panesar as a second spinner, instead including a third seamer in Chris Tremlett.

Playing their first Test since becoming the top-ranked side in the world with a 4-0 series win over India last summer, Andrew Strauss won the toss and opted to bat first in front of a sparse crowd at the 25,000 capacity Dubai International Cricket Stadium.

England lost Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott in the first hour to find themselves under pressure at 31-2. Cook (three) departed in the sixth over, caught behind cutting at off-spinner Mohamamd Hafeez's third delivery and Trott went for 17 to a tickle down the leg side off seamer Aizaz Cheema (1-43).

And the introduction of Ajmal in the 19th over - the third spinner tried by Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq after Hafeez and Abdur Rehman - prompted a further collapse.

Ajmal, who taunted England's batsmen in the lead-up with talk of his new "teesra" delivery (which turned out to be a round-arm off-break), bagged the wickets of Andrew Strauss, Ian Bell and Kevin Pietersen in his first two overs.

Strauss (19) failed to pick a quicker one and was bowled underneath his attempted pull, Bell stretched forward and edged a doosra behind for a golden duck and Pietersen (two) followed lbw on the front foot, given out on review.

Reviews

Eoin Morgan and Prior dug in to reach lunch on 52-5 and had extended their sixth-wicket stand to 39 when Ajmal struck again.

Morgan (24) missed with a big slog-sweep and was sent on his way lbw, a review from the batsman only serving to confirm it would have hit middle stump.

And Ajmal did not have to wait long to complete his fifth five-wicket haul in Tests, Stuart Broad (eight) falling in similar fashion to Morgan - and also unsuccessfully trying his luck with England's last review.

Graeme Swann kept Prior company for 17 overs either side of tea. Swann hit six boundaries in his 34 before left-armer Rehman (1-52) turned one past his defences and into off-stump.

Prior, who went to his 19th Test half-century from 115 balls, did his best to marshal the tail but was left high and dry on 70 as Ajmal rounded off his day with lbw verdicts against Chris Tremlett (one) and James Anderson (12).

Pakistan made a strong start to their reply in the remaining 15 overs, Hafeez and Umar negotiating the new ball without alarm to reduce their side's deficit to 150 at stumps.

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