Gul’s triple strike leaves England in tatters

Updated: January 19, 2012

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Fast bowler Umar Gul sliced through England with three cheap wickets for Pakistan to eye victory on day three Thursday of the first test.

After Adnan Akmal’s gutsy half-century stretched Pakistan’s first-innings lead to 146, England was on the mat in its second innings at 75-5, still trailing by 71 runs at tea.

England faces losing its first test since December 2010 when Australia won the Ashes test in Perth.

Gul’s aggressive bowling for 3-20 was helped by some atrocious shot selection from opener Alastair Cook (5) and Kevin Pietersen (0), who departed from attempting shocking pull shots.

Pakistan offspinner Saeed Ajmal, whose career-best 7-55 bundled out England for 192 on day one, undid Ian Bell for 4 with his doosra.

Bell half-heartedly called for a review but started walking back after watching the replay on the big screen at Dubai International Cricket Stadium with the ball striking his back leg in front of the stumps.

Left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman then struck just before tea when Eoin Morgan on 14 got a faint edge to wicketkeeper.

Gul reduced England to 16-1 at lunch when Andrew Strauss was adjudged caught behind off a leg-side delivery after TV umpire Steve Davis upheld onfield umpire Billy Bowden’s decision.

Pakistan resumed overnight at 288-7 and finished its first innings in the morning on 338, a lead of 146.

The diminutive Akmal hit 61 with eight fours to frustrate England for an hour and a quarter.

Akmal lost Gul for a duck when he hit Stuart Broad in only the second over of the day to Morgan at point.

Akmal gathered a precious 30 runs with Ajmal before Graeme Swann had the latter caught close to wicket for 12.

The last-wicket stand of 19 — all made by Akmal — added to England’s frustration as the Pakistan wicketkeeper-batsman kept the strike from No. 11 Aizaz Cheema for four overs.

Akmal played some extravagant strokes that included two reverse swept boundaries off Swann. He brought up his half-century with a similar stroke for two runs and pumped his fist in joy while raising his bat toward his teammates in the dressing room.

Swann finally closed Pakistan’s first innings when Akmal went out of the crease but missed the line and was stumped by Prior down the legside. Swann ended with 4-107 while Broad claimed 3-84.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press

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