Dubai: Sixteen wickets tumbled on the opening day of the third and final test as England limped to 104 for six after skittling hosts Pakistan for 99.
After slumping to 44 for seven at one stage, Pakistan closed the day reasonably happy after their spinners again gave England’s batsmen a torrid time.
Slow left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman removed Kevin Pietersen, Eoin Morgan and Matt Prior while Saeed Ajmal accounted for Ian Bell for the fourth time in five innings in the series.
“I didn’t expect us to get all out for 99 and we really didn’t expect them to get out so soon,” Mohsin Khan, Pakistan’s coach told reporters after the game.
“But our bowlers are also doing a tremendous job.”
Pietersen’s dismissal set a record for the most leg before wicket dismissals in a three-match series – surpassing the 33 in the 1993 contest between the West Indies and Pakistan.
Captain Andrew Strauss held firm on 41 at the close, to give England some hope of cashing in on a superb display by the their pace attack in which Stuart Broad and James Anderson wrought havoc.
Broad was in scintillating form, ripping through Pakistan’s top order as the hosts collapsed to 53 for seven at lunch after winning the toss and electing to bat.
He took four for 21 in a devastating spell as England looked to restore some pride after heavy defeats in the opening two matches. New ball partner Anderson got England off to a perfect start when he struck with the last ball of the first over, removing Taufeeq Umar with a regulation leg before decision.
Broad was soon among the wickets when he trapped Azhar Ali in his third over, the batsman sent back to the pavilion when a TV review showed he had feathered a catch through to wicketkeeper Prior.
It was also a poor morning for umpire Simon Taufel, who had a second not out decision overturned by an England review when Muhammad Hafeez was given out lbw to a Broad delivery that was clipping leg stump to leave Pakistan four down.
His counterpart Steve Davis was having a better time of it and was vindicated after two Pakistan reviews – the first ordered by captain Misbah-ul-Haq and the second by Adnan Akmal – both backed up his decision to give them out lbw.
In between the two Taufel reviews, Younis Khan played a loose shot outside off stump to a Broad lifter and when Rehman gifted spinner Graeme Swann his wicket 20 minutes before lunch, Pakistan were reeling on 44-7 and in danger of not reaching their lowest test total of 53, scored against Australia at Sharjah in 2002.
Asad Shafiq, in tandem with Ajmal, provided the only real resistance with a fluid innings of 45 which ended shortly after the afternoon drinks break when he attempted to cut a straight one from Monty Panesar which hit him on the back pad.
After Shafiq’s exit, Umar Gul entertained the small contingent of Pakistan fans with a brief cameo – including one huge six off Panesar – before Anderson rearranged his stumps to bring the innings to a close with his third wicket.
England failed to capitalise though, losing two wickets before tea.
Alastair Cook departed for one as he played away from his body at a Gul delivery and the ball was pouched by wicketkeeper Akmal diving in front of first slip.
He was soon followed by Jonathan Trott, who was unfortunate to be given out leg before on two to a Gul delivery which TV replays showed was slipping down the leg side.
Strauss and Pietersen steadied the England ship after the interval as England moved on to 64 for 2 before Pietersen’s vulnerability to left-arm spin returned and he was dismissed by Rehman for 32.
Bell was then stumped off the bowling of Ajmal for five and Morgan fell lbw to Rehman for 10 after a TV review overturned the original not out decision.
A ripper from Rehman was too good for Matt Prior but captain Strauss and nightwatchman Anderson negotiated the remaining overs to see England to the close.
“I’ve got to hang around as much as I can with Strauss tomorrow,” Anderson told reporters, adding he hoped they could put on a further 20 or 30 runs before the more aggressive Broad and Swann came in.