England edged to a slender five-run lead over Pakistan at the close as 16 wickets fell during an extraordinary opening day of the third and final Test at Dubai Stadium yesterday.
Routed for a low score of 99 in their first innings by England pacemen Stuart Broad (4-36) and James Anderson (3-35), Pakistan’s spinners moved to the fore to leave England struggling at 104-6.
England, playing for pride after losing the first two Tests and the series, now hold a slight lead on a seemingly batting-friendly pitch.
At the close, Andrew Strauss was unbeaten on 41 and James Anderson was on 3 not out.
Paceman Umar Gul led Pakistan’s fightback by dismissing opener Alastair Cook (1) and Jonathan Trott (2), before Strauss added 57 for the third wicket with Kevin Pietersen (32) during their bids to overcome batting frailties.
England’s batting had flopped during their two-wicket defeat in the first Test in Dubai and in the 72-run defeat in the second match in Abu Dhabi.
Pakistani spinners Abdul Rehman and Saeed Ajmal, who grabbed 34 of the 40 wickets in the first two Tests, then grabbed four more wickets, with Rehman dismissing Pietersen and Eoin Morgan (10) and Ajmal accounting for Bell (5).
Pietersen’s dismissal made it 34 LBW dismissals for the series, beating the previous record of 33 in the Pakistan-West Indies series in the Caribbean in 1993.
Rehman, who took 3-23, then bowled Matt Prior (6) with England just one behind Pakistan.
Earlier in the morning, England’s pace duo of Broad and Anderson bowled well to expose Pakistan, who won the toss and batted. Asad Shafiq top-scored with 45.
Anderson struck in the first over, trapping opener Taufiq Umar for a duck.
Broad then clicked into gear, snaring Ali in his third over through a caught behind and Younis in his next, caught off a rising delivery, again by wicketkeeper Prior.
He then claimed Hafeez’s wicket trapping him LBW. Australian umpire Simon Taufel initially turned down the appeal, but changed the decision after England called for a review.
Hafeez mocked the decision review system and may face a hearing from match referee Jeff Crowe of New Zealand after the day’s play.
From the other end, Anderson trapped Misbah-ul-Haq for 1 in a decision challenged by the Pakistani skipper to no avail. That left Pakistan struggling at 21-5.
Shafiq and Adnan Akmal (6) added 18 for the sixth wicket before Broad changed ends to dismiss the wicketkeeper, again with a sharp incoming delivery, which caught the batsmen in front of the stumps.
Graeme Swann then teased a miscued a drive from Rehman (1), gathered by a grateful Pietersen at mid-off, leaving Pakistan in danger of being bowled out for their lowest-ever Test total — 53 against Australia in 2002.
Shafiq hit his first boundary in the last over before lunch to take Pakistan to that lowest mark and then hit another off left-arm spinner Monty Panesar to avoid the ignominy.
However, Panesar, who took 2-25, had the last laugh, breaking the 34-run stand — the best of the innings — between Ajmal (12) and Shafiq after lunch.
Gul made 13 before Anderson bowled him to wrap up the innings.
England resisted the temptation to change their lineup, but Pakistan brought paceman Aizaz Cheema for Junaid Khan.