Bowlers dominate first day in Pak-Eng final Test

DUBAI: Bowlers dominated the play as sixteen wickets fell on the opening day of the third and final Test match between Pakistan and England here at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Friday. At stumps, England were 104 runs for six wickets with a slender lead of five runs after they bowled out Pakistan for a low score of 99 in the first innings.  Captain and opening batsman Andrew Strauss was still at the crease with a fighting 41 along with night-watchman James Anderson who was not on three. For Pakistan, left-arm spinner Abdul Rehman claimed three wickets for 23 runs while pace bowler Umar Gul took two early wickets for 28. Off-spinner Saeed Ajmal got one for 40. Strauss batted with determination and patience and hit four boundaries in his 120-ball innings. Paceman Umar Gul led Pakistan’s fightback by dismissing opener Alastair Cook (one) and Jonathan Trott (two) before Strauss added 57 for the third wicket with Kevin Pietersen (32) during their bids to overcome batting frailties. Pakistani spinners Abdul Rehman and Saeed Ajmal, who grabbed 34 of the 40 wickets in the first two Tests, then grabbed four more wickets, with Rehman dismissing Pietersen and Eoin Morgan (10) and Ajmal accounting for Bell (five).  Pietersen’s dismissal made it 34 leg-before dismissals for the series, beating the previous record of 33 in the Pakistan-West Indies series in the Caribbean in 1993. Rehman, who took 3-23, then bowled Matt Prior (six) with England just one behind Pakistan. Earlier in the morning, England’s pace duo of Broad and Anderson bowled well to expose Pakistan, who won the toss and batted. Asad Shafiq topscored with 45. Pakistan were routed for a low score of 99 in their first innings by England pacemen Stuart Broad (4-36) and James Anderson (3-35). Anderson struck in the first over, trapping opener Taufiq Umar for a duck. Broad then clicked into gear, snaring Ali in his third over through a caught behind and Younis in his next, caught off a rising delivery, again by wicket-keeper Prior. He then claimed Hafeez’s wicket trapping him leg before. Australian umpire Simon Taufel initially turned down the appeal but changed the decision after England called for a review. From the other end Anderson trapped Misbah-ul Haq for one in a decision challenged by the Pakistani skipper to no avail. That left Pakistan struggling at 21-5. Shafiq and Adnan Akmal (six) added 18 for the sixth wicket before Broad changed ends to dismiss the wicket-keeper, again with a sharp incoming delivery which caught the batsmen in front of the stumps. Graeme Swann then teased a miscued a drive from Rehman (one) gathered by a grateful Pietersen at mid-off, leaving Pakistan in danger of being bowled out for their lowest ever Test total — 53 against Australia in 2002. Shafiq hit his first boundary in the last over before lunch to take Pakistan to that lowest mark and then hit another off left-arm spinner Monty Panesar to avoid the ignominy. But Panesar, who took 2-25, had the last laugh, breaking the 34-run stand — the best of the innings — between Ajmal (12) and Shafiq after lunch. Gul made 13 before Anderson bowled him to wrap up the innings. England resisted the temptation to change their line-up but Pakistan brought paceman Aizaz Cheema for Junaid Khan. England, playing for pride after losing the first two Tests and the series, now hold a slight lead on a seemingly batting-friendly pitch.