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Ajmal takes five but England still in command

Last updated on: August 08, 2010 09:05 IST


England suffered a first innings batting collapse but still edged nearer to another crushing win over Pakistan, who trailed by 160 runs at close of play on day two of the second Test at Edgbaston on Saturday.

Pakistan, dismissed for a dismal 72 on Friday before bowling England out for 251, reached 19 for one at the close with Imran Farhat unbeaten on 10 and Azhar Ali not out on 5.

The wicket to fall was that of Pakistan captain Salman Butt (nought), defeated by a swinging James Anderson ball on off stump only to be caught by Andrew Strauss at first slip.

Pakistan still have much to do to claw their way back into the game though the manner in which they finished off the England first innings would have given them encouragement.

England lost their last seven wickets for 46 runs as recalled off-spinner Saeed Ajmal claimed five for 82.

Less comforting would have been Pakistan's six dropped catches, including three missed chances offered by England's top scorer Kevin Pietersen, who made 80 but failed to register a first Test hundred in 23 innings.

"It's wasn't one of my most fluent of knocks but it was great to spend some time at the crease," Pietersen told reporters. "I had a fair amount of luck but these things happen.

"If you had told me at the start of the match that we would bowl Pakistan out for 72 and I would score 80 to help put us in a great position in the match I would have been delighted with that."


Pakistan's inept fielding display was never better illustrated than when Butt dropped Graeme Swann at mid-off. It was Pakistan's sixth drop and coach Waqar Younis reacted by laughing, presumably in disbelief at his team's inadequacies in the field.

"The only thing we can do is to keep practising harder," Butt said. "Sometimes it seems like there is not much more you can do other than to laugh about it. But we will keep working harder for an improvement."

Pietersen, dropped twice on Friday, got another life on his overnight score of 36 off Mohammad Amir. An inside edge on to pad ballooned towards Umar Amin at gully but the fielder, distracted by an lbw appeal, spilt a simple chance.

He received another controversial reprieve when on 41. As pace bowler Mohammad Asif approached his delivery stride, Pietersen started to pull away from his batting stance, but still played a half-hearted stroke and was caught by a diving Butt at mid-off.

Pakistan claimed the catch but South African umpire Marais Erasmus signalled dead ball after it was taken. Butt appeared confused and upset by the ruling, while Pietersen reaffirmed his belief he was not ready to receive the ball.

A senior official told Reuters Erasmus had verbally called it 'dead ball' before Asif had delivered the ball.

"I probably shouldn't have hit it, I apologise if I caused any issues," Pietersen said. "I just pulled away as I thought Trotty (Jonathan Trott) was going to walk straight across and I hadn't seen the bowler for some strange reason. Instinct just took over."

A boundary off the back foot through cover from Ajmal was a more assured stroke. But Pietersen's luck continued shortly after when he nicked Ajmal for four via the wicketkeeper's pad though it was not a chance.

Pietersen's fluky but gutsy 147-ball effort finally ended when he offered a return catch to Ajmal.

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