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17 Jan 2012 12:27
Pakistan’s off-spinner Saeed Ajmal took three wickets in five balls to leave England struggling at 52-5 at lunch on the opening day of the first Test played at Dubai Stadium on Tuesday.
The 34-year-old, whose claims of a mystery delivery surrounded the lead-up to the three-Test series, delivered the goods after being introduced in the 19th over, leaving England in an early spin after they had decided to bat on a slow turning pitch.
Ajmal dismissed Andrew Strauss (19) with the last delivery of his first over and then had Ian Bell (0) with the first ball of his next, before trapping Kevin Pietersen (2) leg before three balls later.
Ajmal went into lunch with figures of 5-3, and could have had his fourth wicket had Adnan Akmal stumped Eoin Morgan, who was beaten all ends up while coming out to drive. But the wicket-keeper failed to gather the ball cleanly.
Pakistan played two frontline spinners in Ajmal and left-armer Abdul Rehman.
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 the part-time off-breaks of batting opener Mohammad Hafeez, who was rewarded when England opener Alastair Cook edged his third delivery to Adnan 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, who did not appear to have unfurled any new bowling delivery in the morning, then bowled Strauss who went for a pull but missed the ball and lost his off-stump.
Bell was then caught and bowled off a straight delivery from Ajmal.
Pietersen survived a confident lbw appeal but Ajmal asked for the Decision Review System and to the team’s joyful surprise, umpire Billy Bowden was forced to change his mind with replays showing the ball going on to hit the stumps.—AFP
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