England pegged back by Ajmal late show
Saeed Ajmal's three late wickets threatened to overshadow the batting exploits of Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott as Pakistan finished strongly on day two of the second Test at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
After England suffered an early setback with the loss of captain Andrew Strauss, Cook and Trott joined forces to frustrate the designated home side with a second-wicket partnership of 139 in a 50-over stay at the crease that required excellent patience and concentration.
However, Trott’s dismissal, for 74, to a brilliant Abdur Rehman delivery checked England's progress and they went on to experience a triple blow at the hands of Ajmal in the final half hour of the day.
Cook, dropped by Asad Shafiq early on in his innings, was trapped in front six runs shy of a 20th Test century and Pietersen was unlucky to find Mohammad Hafeez at slip via bat and pad.
Under intense pressure, Ian Bell and Eoin Morgan almost saw the tourists through to stumps, but the latter was caught at slip from what proved to be the final ball of the day as Pakistan restricted England to 207 for five.
Earlier, Pakistan only managed to add one to their overnight 256 for seven, with Stuart Broad and James Anderson requiring just 16 deliveries to collect the final three wickets.
With the tourists knowing early wickets were crucial, Broad continued where he left off yesterday with a brilliant over that troubled Misbah-ul-Haq from the start.
After the Pakistan skipper edged the paceman just short of Graeme Swann at second slip and played and missed a full delivery, he was pinned lbw for 84 by a ball that nipped back off the seam.
A review failed to save the right-hander as Broad completed impressive figures of 4-47 from 24 overs.
Anderson, in his second over, dismissed Ajmal, playing across the line, leg before and then saw last man Junaid Khan edge to Swann in the cordon as Pakistan lasted only 15 minutes today.
Strauss and Cook, opening the England innings for a 100th time in Tests, played positively against the seamers early on.
Cook started strongly on the leg side, pulling Umar Gul through midwicket for his first boundary, before Hafeez, introduced as early as the sixth over, and Ajmal started to cause the England openers problems.
Strauss boosted his confidence with a cover drive off Ajmal, only to fall to Hafeez with 25 on the board. The England captain prodded forward and inside-edged into the hands of Shafiq at short-leg via pad to depart for 11.
Cook rocked onto the back foot to chop Ajmal behind square, but was fortunate to survive on the stroke of lunch when Shafiq, again around the bat, failed to hang on to a difficult chance off Hafeez.
Trott began to get in his stride against Gul, cutting him to the point boundary to bring up the England 50. After edging low past the slips, he then flicked the paceman off his legs for three.
Pakistan's failure to review an unsuccessful lbw appeal from Ajmal proved costly with batting becoming easier as the England pair brought up their half-century partnership.
Misbah wasted both of his side's reviews, either side of Trott making his eighth Test fifty off 95 balls, before Cook followed suit, punching Ajmal to the midwicket boundary.
With Trott looking extremely comfortable at the crease, it took a brilliant delivery from Rehman to breach his defences. The right-hander was deceived in flight by the left-arm spinner as the ball turned past his outside edge onto the top of off stump with the score on 166.
Trott’s dismissal brought confidence back to the Pakistan bowlers and Rehman found sharp turn against Pietersen, who waited patiently to get off the mark before crashing a drive through the covers.
After Cook edged Ajmal past first slip, the spinner finally got his reward with a trio of late wickets that halted England’s charge for a first-innings lead.
Cook was trapped plumb in front pushing forward before Pietersen, advancing down the pitch, was unfortunate to find Hafeez’s hands.
Bell and Morgan were left with the task of seeing out the day and the pair were doing just that until Morgan pushed at an Ajmal delivery outside off stump and provided Hafeez with his second catch to end an eventful day.