England struggle as Pakistan sniff victory

Pakistan pacer Umar Gul (L) struck three vital blows to have England on the back foot on day three of the first Test against England Getty Images

Dubai: Jan 19, 2012

Paceman Umar Gul took three wickets in a hostile nine over spell to leave England facing defeat on the third day of the first cricket Test against Pakistan played at Dubai Stadium here on Thursday.

The 27-year-old fast bowler dismissed Andrew Strauss (six) before lunch and then accounted for Alastair Cook (five) and Kevin Pietersen (nought) after Pakistan gained a big 146-run lead by scoring 338 in their first innings.

England went into tea at 75-5, with Jonathan Trott on a fighting 42 and Matt Prior batting without scoring. They still need another 71 runs to avoid an innings defeat in their first Test series as world number one team.

Trott, who completed 2,000 runs when reached 18 in his 24th Test, has held one end intact as wickets tumbled at the other, with Gul the main destroyer. Trott has so far hit six boundaries.

With the ball turning and Pakistan still in the lead, England will need a big innings from any of the batsmen left to stay in the match and avoid going down in the three-Test series.

England had another disastrous start as Strauss was adjudged caught behind, pushing Gul to the leg side but the ensuing edge was well taken by wicket-keeper Adnan Akmal.

Strauss instantly challenged the verdict but was left to trudge off the field after television umpire Steve Davis of Australia upheld the original decision.

Soon after the lunch break, Gul produced a sharp rising delivery which caught Cook in two minds as the left-hander gloved it to Adnan who had no trouble in gathering it.

Kevin Pietersen, who has yet to score big on tour, made it 25-3 when he hooked a Gul bouncer straight into the hands of deep square-leg fielder Abdul Rehman, leaving England in more trouble at 25-3.

Off-spinner Saeed Ajmal, who took a career best 7-55 in England’s first innings total of 192, then came into act when he trapped Ian Bell plumb infront of the wicket for 4.

Bell wasted England’s second referral as television replays showed he was hit on the back leg, in line with the stumps.

Left-armer Rehman then ended a fifth wicket partnership of 39 by dismissing Morgan (14) caught behind.

In the morning Adnan boosted Pakistan’s lead with a gutsy second Test half half-century. Adnan scored a career best 61, adding another 50 runs after Pakistan resumed at 288-7.

Adnan, who hit eight boundaries during his 129-ball knock, put on a 30-run stand for the ninth wicket with Ajmal who made 12.

Adnan reverse swept Graeme Swann twice for boundaries and then edged the same bowler through the slips for a couple to reach his fifty. His previous best of 53 came against Bangladesh in Dhaka last month.

Adnan was finally dismissed, stumped by Prior as he jumped out of the crease to drive Swann but completely missed the ball.

Swann finished with 4-107.

Brief Scores: England 192 all-out & 75 for 5 (Jonathan Trott 42*, Eoin Morgan 14; Umar Gul 3 for 24) trail Pakistan 338 (Mohammad Hafeez 88, Taufeeq Umar 58, Misbah-ul-Haq 52; Graeme Swann 4 for 107, James Anderson 2 for 71, Stuart Broad 3 for 84) by 71 runs

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