Pakistan v England, 2nd Test, Abu Dhabi, 2nd day January 26, 2012

Ajmal leads Pakistan's late rally


England 207 for 5 (Cook 94, Trott 74, Ajmal 3-67) trail Pakistan 257 (Misbah 84, Shafiq 58, Broad 4-47) by 50 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott, like few other Test batsmen, are masters of passive aggression. On the surface they might appear perfectly polite but beneath their calm exterior there is all manner of mental disintegration going on. Pakistan were so worn down by their impassive resistance that for a while they came close to madness. The moment they banished them from their presence, joy abounded once more.

Pakistan made life hard for themselves. They frittered away both their umpiring reviews in a matter of minutes as Trott's resistance drove them to desperation in the desert air of Abu Dhabi. They fondly imagined they had dismissed him twice because they were desperate to get rid of him. Then when he really did depart, Abdur Rehman finding unexpectedly big turn to bowl him for 74, their feelgood factor immediately returned.

England lost 3 for 9 in the last 10 overs of the day, all of them to Saeed Ajmal, Pakistan's 10-wicket destroyer in the first Test in Dubai. Few who saw Ajmal begin to run amok again, and the old ball suddenly turning sharply, would state with confidence that England will level this series. The Sheikh Zayed stadium had played host to an attritional but absorbing day and it possessed a devilish twist.

Cook fell six runs short of what would have been the most watchful of Test hundreds, lbw to Ajmal's doosra; Kevin Pietersen was caught at first slip by Mohammad Hafeez off pad and inside edge; Eoin Morgan followed via the same dismissal in the final over. For England it was all a blur. Cook and Trott might conclude that they can handle Ajmal from now on but nobody else can. On the England balcony Graeme Swann tried to read a David Downing novel but it was unlikely the words were going in.

Cook had initially been as stilted against Pakistan's spinners as a Jane Austen suitor asking for a first dance but he relaxed as his innings progressed. Trott also needed the fortune of several thick edges - so much so that when his bat rubber disintegrated he changed the rubber rather than change the bat.

But while Trott and Cook put up methodical resistance, in a stand of 139 in 50.4 overs, England prospered. At 166 for 1 they had edged to within 91 runs of Pakistan's first-innings total and just as importantly had eased the challenge for those still to come - theoretically at least - as Pakistan allowed their frustration to get the better of them and frittered away their DRS reviews with abandon.

Pakistan should have opted for DRS when Trott, on 22, was trapped on the back foot by Ajmal. But the bowler was ambivalent and the decision of Australian umpire Bruce Oxenford went unchallenged. Replays on the big screen showed the ball hitting leg stump, causing the captain Misbah-ul-Haq to engage Ajmal in a lengthy debriefing.

Oxenford has had an impressive series - eight decisions upheld and only one overturned at that stage - so experience had suggested he should not be readily challenged. But as Trott and Cook bedded in, Pakistan's logic departed.

Trott was on 49 when Ajmal struck him on the front pad; Pakistan opted for a review only for replays to show that the ball had hit his pad outside the line. Three overs later, Mohammad Hafeez turned one to strike his pad. Again, Misbah agreed to resort to DRS with a somewhat weary air and again replays showed the ball hitting him outside the line. Pakistan had exhausted their options.

Pakistan have rightly been praised for their orderly approach under Misbah's leadership but they falter when it comes to DRS. Adnan Akmal knows how to screech an appeal in the best family tradition - and he is the best wicketkeeper of the Akmal trio, too - but he is too inexperienced to be trusted with shrewd analysis of a bowler's line. Trott had escaped in the first Test in Dubai when Ajmal waved aside the chance to refer what would have been a stone-dead lbw decision. And, in the same Test, Umar Gul risibly demanded a review for a delivery that pitched miles outside leg stump.

It was the 100th occasion that Cook and Andrew Strauss had opened together for England. They were only the fourth Test pair to reach the landmark, and the first from England. But they had rarely experienced anything like this - a trial by spin in the desert. Here was a different challenge, an arid land of half-finished building projects and idle cranes where England must recover from 1-0 down in the series.

It was all too much for Strauss. He made 11 and was then stuck on the crease, propping half forward suspiciously, when Mohammad Hafeez had him caught off bat and pad at short leg. Strauss, whose poor run of form goes on, was intent on playing Pakistan's spinners off the back foot as much as possible but he departed shaking his head at an indeterminate shot.

England began the day with vigour, needing 16 balls to wrap up Pakistan's last three wickets. Pakistan added a single from Misbah to their overnight 256 for 7 before Stuart Broad had him lbw to end his obdurate innings on 84. Broad finished with 4 for 47 after one of his most consistent and mature bowling displays for England.

England were delighted by their rapid dismantling of the Pakistan tail, the only disappointment resting with the statisticians. Not since 1948 had an innings completed its course without intervention from the fielders but the last man, Junaid Khan, put paid to that as he edged his third ball, from James Anderson, to Swann at second slip.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Martin on January 27, 2012, 8:33 GMT

    @jmcilhinney on (January 27 2012, 04:29 AM GMT) - agreed. india fans having a crack at us and us biting back is one thing - but I haven't seen any sign of that from excellent and worthy Pakistan fans. This is developing into a cracker, lets not spoil it with any big talk. Lets just settle down and enjoy a great contest! :-)

  • Amar on January 27, 2012, 8:21 GMT

    Been impressed by Broad, top player and he could be the reason why England win this match. Pakistan as we have got to know are making it hard for themselves. If England get a 75-100 run lead then the game is Englands all day long even if they have to bat last. Will the Pakistani batsmen again prove that they are the weakest link or will they buck the trend? Great Game, Loving It!

  • Sean on January 27, 2012, 8:20 GMT

    @Haroon Ali

    Still sure?

  • John on January 27, 2012, 8:14 GMT

    @richardror on (January 26 2012, 19:36 PM GMT) Isn't it a bit too much of a luxury having a specialised batsman who doesn't bowl at all in at 7? What about swapping Morgan for Finn?

  • Mohammad on January 27, 2012, 7:35 GMT

    Pakistan always lucky in bowling dept, and always in trouble in Bating, Pakistan produced only 2 reliable batsmen since 1996, Younis & Yusuf. As per my memory from 1996 to date we always win due to quality bowling, credit of last win against England is also goes to bowlers, fact is this Pakistanis batsman didn't play well, but it's England who played poorly specially in bating. As concerned to current match I believe England will play as per their capacity, as now they are settle in new condition and perform well , specially they need to deliver in batting department , and try to get the lead of 100 run , Misbah ul haq and company is not capable to score more than 250 against any quality bowler.

  • Dummy4 on January 27, 2012, 6:04 GMT

    I wish it will be a very very good morning for PAKS if Sayeed Ajmal can the turn what he did have yesterday afternoon. Best of luck and keep it going till BPL for Dhaka Glatiators.............We are waiting............28..29.....february..matches......keep rocking man..........BPL FAN

  • Salman on January 27, 2012, 5:33 GMT

    Well Played Cook and Trott. Pakistan always have the versatility in their bowling is the batting is which is concerned for us. In My opinion Misbah should have used other part time bowlers as we know that Azhar Ali enter in domestic as a leg break bowler.. so Misbah should have used him as well. and Younis, Shafiq and Taufeeq also bowl slow spin.We have seen Younis bowl medium pace as well ...Pitch behave very good for test cricket. Fast Bowlers got wickets so as spinners. So its testing times ahead for Batsmen.

  • Muhammad on January 27, 2012, 5:02 GMT

    As the akmals are so vocal, badi hi khap dalti hogi, when they would play in there street.

  • Nigah on January 27, 2012, 4:49 GMT

    David Hopps, May I know why you so praising England and always try to show that Pakistani player were frustrated? because they ask for DRS, remember England players are human not the angles ok. and you was not on ground that you can feel about frustration.

  • inzi on January 27, 2012, 4:42 GMT

    well done ajmal..... best of luck

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