Pakistan sweep England aside
England suffered a first Test whitewash since the 2006-07 Ashes and their maiden against Pakistan.
The International Cricket Council’s top-ranked team made a decent fist of chasing 324 - which would have been the second-highest run-chase in their Test history - but came up 71 runs short at Dubai.
Andrew Strauss’ side remain number one, but a South Africa 3-0 whitewash of hosts New Zealand next month will see the Proteas take over and scoop the US$175,000 jackpot for leading at the April 1 cut-off.
That scoreline in the United Arab Emirates reflected Pakistan’s dominance on slow and low-bouncing pitches that have allowed their spinners to excel. The trend continued today at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium, although fast bowler Umar Gul claimed four wickets.
Having resumed this morning requiring 288 for victory with 10 wickets left, the tourists had at best an outside chance of avoiding defeat. Alastair Cook’s 49 gave cause for optimism but, when he became Saeed Ajmal’s third victim, 205 was still needed with six wickets left.
Despite a sprightly 31 from Eoin Morgan, Gul twice struck in consecutive overs. Matt Prior refused to give up with an unbeaten 49 but, fittingly, it was spinners Ajmal and Abdur Rehman who completed victory to end with 24 and 19 series wickets respectively.
On the back of Pakistan’s 10-wicket triumph at the same venue and 72-run win in Abu Dhabi, it was the first time a team has been dismissed for under 100 in the first innings and won a Test since 1907.
Following four crazy sessions in which 22 wickets fell, a 216-run stand between Younus Khan and Azhar Ali - who hit the only two centuries of the series - proved crucial. Even England taking Pakistan’s last seven wickets for 34 runs was too little too late. Gul’s 4-61 and Ajmal’s 4-67 made sure of that.
Picking up on 19 and 15 respectively, Strauss and Alastair Cook - yesterday dropped on four by Taufeeq Umar at third slip off Gul - began circumspectly until the former advanced to clip Rehman to the midwicket boundary.
Gul was unlucky again when wicketkeeper Adnan Akmal put down a regulation chance to remove Strauss on 26. But, in the next over, Rehman trapped the England captain in front without addition - despite a review. Replays showed the ball going on to hit the top of middle stump after Strauss, playing back, had been struck on the back pad.
Cook became the second youngest player - after Sachin Tendulkar - to reach 6,000 Test runs with the last run of three wide of mid-on off Gul. Cook and Jonathan Trott’s first fours today then came off Rehman, who was exasperated when Gul completely misjudged a chance at fine-leg - gifting the former another four, which took him to 32.
Trott flicked Rehman to the square-leg rope and Cook immediately cut Ajmal for the same reward before Pakistan wasted their last review on Ajmal’s lbw appeal against Cook, who was attempting to sweep. The delivery, in the fourth of five straight maidens, pitched outside the left-hander’s leg stump.
Cook broke the deadlock with a single to leg off Ajmal, but next ball Trott perished - top-edging a sweep off Ajmal to Rehman, running in from deep backward square-leg.
Soon after lunch, Rehman had a close lbw appeal against Pietersen turned down in the second of three back-to-back maidens. The right-hander ended that sequence with lofted drives for four and six, which took England into three figures, in the same bowler’s next over.
Following another lull, Pietersen was bowled between bat and pad by a beautiful Ajmal off-break and, in the off-spinner's next over, Younus took a stunning diving catch to his right at slip to snare Cook, whose leading edge was punishment for playing against the spin.
Having taken both specialist spinners for leg-side fours, Morgan lofted Ajmal for a straight six and uppercut Gul for two less. However, Ian Bell tamely cut a long-hop to point later in the over. In Gul’s next, Morgan advanced only to edge behind in defence.
Prior’s twin fours in an Ajmal over offered impetus, which he and Stuart Broad added to after tea by combining for three more.
Gul immediately reaped dividends with the new ball as Broad holed out to long-off and, after Prior successfully reviewed Aizaz Cheema’s lbw appeal, Graeme Swann was caught at point.
With 121 still required, hope came through Prior cutting Rehman to the rope and James Anderson taking three through midwicket off Gul to reduce the target to 100.
Ajmal’s reintroduction did for James Anderson, via another sharp Younus slip catch, and Monty Panesar suffered the 17th lbw decision of the game - off Rehman, despite a review, as England were all out for 252 in the 98th over.