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England crumble under Ajmal's off-spin

By Agencies

Pakistan's Saeed Ajmal flummoxed England's batsmen with his off-spin for his career best haul in tests to dismiss the visitors for 192 on the first day of the opening test in Dubai on Tuesday. 

England captain Andrew Strauss had no hesitation in opting to bat first on what appeared to be a good batting pitch but was soon left to rue his decision as his batsmen crumbled to some smart bowling. 

The pitch did not offer much turn for the spinners but it was enough for the wily Ajmal who mixed his top-spinners and doosras to perfection. 

Ajmal, whose previous best figures were 6-42, finished with seven for 55, his fifth five-wicket haul in test matches as England were shot out in the last session of the day. 

Number one test side England were reduced to 94 for seven at one stage before Matt Prior (70 not out) and Graeme Swann (34) stemmed the rot with a defiant 57-run stand for the eighth wicket. 

Prior was the lone batsman who looked at ease at the crease, using his feet to the spinners regularly, and took England closer to the 200-run mark. 

The other English batsmen were guilty of some unwarranted risky shots after being denied opportunities to score freely. 

Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq was quick to introduce spin in the sixth over of the morning and it immediately bore fruit when opener Alastair Cook (3) edged part-time off-spinner Mohammad Hafeez behind the stumps. 

Left-hander Cook attempted to cut a delivery which was too close to him to attempt the shot. 

Jonathan Trott (17) was then caught down the leg side off paceman Aizaz Cheema, getting a faint edge to a delivery which was going harmlessly wide. 

Ajmal, the leading wicket-taker in tests last year, struck immediately after he was introduced in the 19th over when he dismissed Strauss (19) after the captain played across the line to a straight delivery and was clean bowled. 

Ian Bell (0) and Kevin Pietersen (2) fell in the space of four deliveries in Ajmal's next over, both fooled by the off-spinner's doosra. 

Eoin Morgan, who survived a stumping chance off Ajmal when on three, tried to unsettle the off-spinner with his unorthodox sweep shots but was out lbw (24) attempting the same shot. 

Stuart Broad, who has often managed to bail England out off tricky situations, did not last long either and fell to Ajmal in a similar fashion for eight.



England 1st innings

A. Strauss b Ajmal 19

A. Cook c Adnan b Hafeez 3

J. Trott c Adnan b Cheema 17

K. Pietersen lbw b Ajmal 2

I. Bell c Adnan b Ajmal 0

E. Morgan lbw b Ajmal 24

M. Prior not out 70

S. Broad lbw b Ajmal 8

G. Swann b Rehman 34

C. Tremlett lbw b Ajmal 1

J. Anderson lbw b Ajmal 12

Extras: (lb2) 2

Total: 192

Fall of wickets: 1-10 (Cook), 2-31 (Trott), 3-42 (Strauss), 4-42 (Bell), 5-43 (Pietersen), 6-82 (Morgan), 7-94 (Broad), 8-151 (Swann), 9-168 (Tremlett).

Bowling: Gul 12-4-35-0, Cheema 12-0-43-1, Hafeez 6-3-5-1, Rehman 18-5-52-1, Ajmal 24.3-7-55-7

Overs: 72.3

Pakistan 1st innings

Mohammad Hafeez not out 22

Taufiq Umar not out 18

Extras: (lb1, nb1) 2

Total: (for no wkts) 42

Bowling: Anderson 5-1-16-0, Tremlett 3-0-13-0 (nb1), Broad 4-2-3-0, Swann 3-1-9-0

Overs: 15

Toss: England

Umpires: Billy Bowden (NZL) and Bruce Oxenford (AUS)

TV umpire: Steve Davis (AUS)

Match referee: Javagal Srinath (IND)