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New ball wickets give England edge over Pakistan

james-andersonABU DHABI: England pacemen James Anderson and Stuart Broad turned the screw on Pakistan's middle order with the new ball on Saturday, dismissing key batsmen in successive overs to leave the hosts on 198 for seven in their second innings at lunch, a lead of 128.

The pair acted quickly to dismiss Azhar Ali (68) and Adnan Akmal (13) after England captain Andrew Strauss gave his fast bowlers the new cherry on the fourth morning of the second test.

At the interval, Saeed Ajmal (11) and Abdur Rehman (10) had cobbled together a vital 26-run partnership but England remain favourites to square the three-match series, having lost the first test by 10 wickets in Dubai last week.

Pakistan had resumed on 125-4, with Ali and Asad Shafiq at the crease after putting on an unbeaten 71 on Friday.

The duo were cautious early on, scoring just 11 runs from seven overs, but became more attacking as the desert sun burnt through the fog shrouding the Sheikh Zayed stadium and Azhar reached his 14th test 50 with a flicked shot past square leg.

Strauss had started with Broad and Graeme Swann before introducing Monty Panesar, a decision that paid quick dividends as the Sussex spinner bagged his fourth wicket of the innings.

Shafiq (43) was Panesar's latest victim, getting a thick edge to a turning delivery that was comfortably held by Anderson at slip to end Pakistan fifth-wicket stand at 88.

In came Adnan Akmal. The wicketkeeper scored a career-best 61 in last week's first test and he began aggressively here, but that was also his undoing, although Ali was first to fall.

Ali tried to fend off Anderson's fierce delivery with his glove, but the ball edged off the bat for a routine catch for wicketkeeper Matt Prior. Pakistan were now on 170-6.

Akmal (13) was to follow in the next over, Broad claiming his first wicket of the innings thanks to a catch from Strauss at slip.

Pakistan play their home matches in the Gulf due to security problems at home.

Copyright Reuters, 2012


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