STUMPS: Pakistan fought back in the final session of the second Test against England at Zayed Cricket stadium after Alastair Cook’s long, grinding hand had kept England all but in control until 10 overs from the close. Cook missed his 20th hundred, leg-before to Saeed Ajmal late in the day, as his 94, over nearly five hours stabilised England against spin. Ajmal was to have the final say, however, picking up Eoin Morgan in the last over to balance matters out, England 207 for five, still 50 behind Pakistan.
Cook pressed on through the afternoon untroubled as Pakistan initially flagged after tea. He cut well all day and got going in the session by doing the same to Mohammad Hafeez, through point. A few overs later, he repeated the shot to Ajmal, who he played well enough through the day.
With Trott progressing serenely in his own bubble, the game was in danger of slipping away from Pakistan entirely. But Abdur Rehman, mysteriously underemployed through the day until then, began the fightback by dismissing Trott with the classic left-arm spinner’s dismissal: pitching middle and leg, the ball turned to take the top of off.
The breaking of the 139-run stand focused Pakistan and began a mini-session of cat and mouse with Kevin Pietersen. They tried to get him to face Ajmal as much as possible, even engineering a single off the last ball of a Rehman over to do so. For a while Cook helped avoid it and Pietersen eventually began to appear confident.
In the end, neither would last and Ajmal, having bowled well but without luck, did for both swiftly. Cook went first, beaten by the doosra, choosing not to review the leg-before; replays showed he was right in not wasting it. A few overs later, Pietersen danced down to flick on leg, but only inside-edged on to pad and then slip.
Ajmal and Rehman then got all over Ian Bell and Eoin Morgan, beating their bats as regularly as appealing for leg-before shouts. England’s run-rate had crawled to a virtual halt by then; in the ten overs since Cook’s dismissal, England scored only nine runs and the pressure showed as Morgan edged Ajmal to Hafeez to end the day; having gone 24 overs without a wicket, Ajmal had taken three in his next five.
TEA: When Alastair Cook and Jonathon Trott settle down together, you cannot expect much by way of excitement or incident from a session.
You can expect solidity, however, and so it was that the pair ground their way unscathed through the afternoon session on the second day of the second Test at the Zayed stadium in Abu Dhabi, taking England to 132 for one, 125 runs behind Pakistan now.
Trott had begun with some intent initially, two boundaries off Umar Gul’s first over post-lunch bringing up England’s fifty. A Trott cover drive for four brought an end to Gul and though Junaid Khan troubled Trott briefly, mostly the pair handled pace comfortably. A clip through midwicket - a Trott trademark - brought up England’s 100 just after drinks and an end to pace.
The story against spin was different, the pair far less assured and runs not as easy to come by. Big, decisive forward strides meant they were better than they had been in Dubai and though the spinners bowled well, Pakistan used their referrals poorly.
Trott struggled in Ajmal’s first over after resumption and should have been out leg-before, but Pakistan did not refer the decision; Hawk-Eye replays confirmed Trott would have been out had they done so.
Mohammad Hafeez came on and kept both Trott and Cook honest but Pakistan, in desperation to make up for their earlier miss, used up their two referrals to calls that were far less out. The first came off Ajmal, with Trott on 48, but he was hit outside off. The second, with Trott now on 51 (his ninth Test fifty), came off Hafeez and impact against was outside off.
Pakistan did not bring on Abdul Rehman till the very end of the session by when Cook had also worked his way to a slow fifty, off 133 balls.
The hundred partnership was soon up and though England weren’t looking comfortable exactly, they were very much in the driver’s seat; this pair, we all know, can bat very long and they've already put on 105.
LUNCH: A fourth successive session left neither team being able to boast of a definitive advantage on the second morning of the second Test between Pakistan and England at the Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
England could not have wished for a better start in wrapping up the tail as they did, but Pakistan’s spinners were entrenched by session’s end, as England ended 48 for one, 209 behind.
England’s pacemen took just 15 minutes and 16 balls to wrap up Pakistan’s tail for the addition of a single run in the morning. The key blow came in the second over of a crisp but not cold morning; Stuart Broad nipped one into Misbah-u-Haq’s pads and though the captain referred it, it was more in hope than anything tangible.
James Anderson, flat on the first day, promptly did his bit, dismissing Saeed Ajmal and Junaid Khan in the very next over to have Pakistan gone for 257. Had Junaid not been caught at slip, it would have been the first time since 1948 that a side had been dismissed without the help of a single fielder.
England began not with the momentum their bowling should have provided them, but with the caution of a side awaiting trial by spin. Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook were untroubled by brief bursts from Umar Gul and Junaid but the game awaited the introduction of Saeed Ajmal and his spin buddies.
By the seventh over, spin was on at both ends.
In the event, England saw off Ajmal’s six-over spell without too much alarm - though one doosra to Jonathon Trott stood out - but did not do likewise to Mohammad Hafeez. Strauss’s poor run of form continued when he popped up a bat-pad off Hafeez’s fifth over.
Cook saw through the session with faultless common sense (but not without minor alarms) going back to cut Ajmal and Abdul Rehman for boundaries and playing the angles well to pick up singles. England did not sweep once, though the top three are not big sweepers in any case; all of which left the game beautifully poised at lunch.