Tuesday 17 January 2012 

Ajmal Rips Through England On Opening Day

Ajmal Rips Through England On Opening Day
Ajmal Rips Through England On Opening Day
© REUTERS / Action Images
 

England 192 (Prior 70no, Saeed Ajmal 7-55) v
Pakistan 42-0
First Test, Dubai, day one

Saeed Ajmal returned career-best figures of seven for 55 to spearhead a day of complete domination for Pakistan on day one of the first Test against England in Dubai.

The off-spinner tore through England's batting line-up as Pakistan dismissed the side bidding to hold on to its number one Test ranking for just 192 before closing on 42 without loss in reply.

Five wickets for Pakistan before lunch left England reeling after Ajmal produced a spell of three for five to dismiss Andrew Strauss (19), Kevin Pietersen (2) and Ian Bell (0).

As well as Ajmal and his colleagues bowled - both building up pressure and then homing in - England batted poorly with some alarming shot selection and execution creeping into their game.

Alastair Cook was caught behind off Mohammad Hafeez for 19 and Aizaz Cheema had Jonathan Trott caught behind for 17 as England limped to the first interval on 52 for five.

Cook was undone as he tried to cut Hafeez - on as early as the sixth over as Pakistan reprised an already successful tactic - while Trott feathered a catch down the leg side to Adnan Akmal.

Strauss misjudged Ajmal's length to be bowled trying to pull, Pietersen missed a straight one as he tried to play across his pads and Bell received a doosra first up that did no more than enough to kiss the outside edge on its way through to Akmal's gloves.

Eoin Morgan (24), Matthew Prior (70 not out) and Graeme Swann (34) offered some resistance to add some respectability to England's score before Ajmal had Morgan, Stuart Broad (8), Chris Tremlett (1) and James Anderson (12) all trapped in front. Morgan and Broad failed to execute the sweep shot correctly while Ajmal's deception was too much for the forward defensive shots offered by Tremlett and Anderson.

Prior was forced to rein in his naturally attacking instincts and played a patient knock of high quality, hitting just three fours in 154 balls to revive England's flagging innings.

Swann was more attacking, hitting six fours and the pair put some pressure on Pakistan for the first time in the day although it couldn't last as left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman ended the 157-run stand for the eighth wicket by bowling Swann.

Pakistan openers Hafeez (22 not out) and Taufeeq Umar (18 not out) then survived 15 overs without huge alarms to keep England under pressure.

Although they lead by 150, their bowlers - the men who have formed the bedrock of their rise to the top of the rankings - are now required to perform as well, if not better, than Ajmal has on the opening day, to keep England in the game.

© Cricket World 2012

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