Dumbstruck England! Tourists blown away as Pietersen and Co lose the plot again
The ball was banged in short by the superb Umar Gul and Kevin Pietersen guided it obligingly into the waiting hands of deep mid-wicket. It was dumber than the dumbest act by the dumbest person from Dumbfordshire, as Baldrick might have said.
It was also impossible not to think back more than 20 years to when David Gower played a similar shot on the stroke of lunch during an Ashes battle in Adelaide to so enrage his captain Graham Gooch.
Bad day at the office: Pietersen was left to reflect on a disappointing innings
The lonely walk: KP was dismissed for a duck
Gooch was present again on Thursday in his role as England batting coach and we can only assume he was equally dismayed at the sheer brainlessness of Pietersen and his fellow batsmen.
Did this really happen Were England really that shambolic twice on a blameless pitch against a good but far from great Pakistan attack Defeat in three days in their first official Test as No 1 side in the world Nobody saw that coming.
Pietersen complains he gets a bad press but his moment of madness yesterday marked the nadir of England's worst Test batting performance since they crashed to 51 all out in Jamaica in 2009, a debacle which saw them bottom out before rising to the top.
When Pietersen is good he is very, very good but when he is bad he is abject and his vain search for form in both warm-up games here and in this 10-wicket defeat somehow epitomises England's plight.
The bowlers would be entitled to feel totally let down in this soulless bowl of a stadium were it not for the fact that an unusually close-knit team 'win together and lose together', in the words of their captain Andrew Strauss.
The bowlers did their job in dismissing Pakistan for 338 in these conditions but no team can recover from losing five wickets in the first session of a Test after winning the toss and England duly crashed to 192 and then 160 yesterday.
It would be unfair to single out Pietersen. Alastair Cook, so relentless, so machine-like in his domination of 2011, was out to two of the worst shots he can have played while Ian Bell was twice undone by Saeed Ajmal's doosra. He has to quickly go back to the drawing board to devise a cunning plan ahead of the second Test.
Game over: Cook was out to two of the worst shots he could have played
Then there is the captain. Strauss, rightly, has considerable credit in the bank but he has not scored a Test century since his defiance in Brisbane at the start of the last Ashes and really could do with adding another one soon.
Here he became, after England had taken the remaining three Pakistan wickets for another 50 runs, the latest in a long line of England batsmen 'strangled' down the leg side to be the first of Gul's four victims gained with considerably hostile bowling. Or was he
Billy Bowden, who had a poor match here, gave Strauss out, the England captain thought long and hard before referring, as is his wont, and replays suggested his bat was nowhere near the ball.
Four-star show: Gul was the thorn in England's side on day 3 of the first Test
So conclusive appeared the evidence that Strauss risked stirring the referee into action by shaking his head on departure. But the technology used in the decision-review system is flawed and the fact the increasingly unreliable HotSpot said there was no contact should not be considered an accurate guide as to the legitimacy of Strauss's dismissal. TV umpire Steve Davis heard a woody sound on the stump microphone.
That was not the biggest controversy involving the infernal referral system. Ajmal seemed to have earlier been sawn off by Bowden when he was given out caught at short leg but Davis was unable to overturn it because HotSpot was a frame behind the action and there was no proof that the New Zealand umpire had got it wrong.
Add Misbah-ul-Haq's controversial lbw decision on the second day and the evidence is mounting that technology is causing just as many problems as it is solving in international cricket.
That is the least of England's problems.
The biggest one is Ajmal and it seems, whatever Strauss says, that he
got into England's heads with talk of his teesra and that they have
become pre-occupied with his action. The fact is, Ajmal has been cleared
as legal by the ICC and the mystery of his bowling is good for the
game. It is a pity that no English bowler can do what he does but that is another story.
Trouble: Ajmal has caused England problems
Ten wickets here for one of the game's genuine, clean, good guys is a considerable achievement and one to be applauded, not doubted. As was Pakistan's victory.
They have been through an enormous amount since the spot-fixing scandal but have risen again under their impressive captain Misbah to produce a superlative performance.
There was none of Pakistan's traditional unpredictability, no flashes of enigmatic brilliance. Just good, skilful effective cricket on a ground that they know well even if it can never feel like home.
Pakistan deserve this monumental triumph and one can only guess at the thoughts of their three players – Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer – who presumably followed the action from behind bars in England.
The new Pakistan are a considerable force and the best Test team in the world will have to bounce back at Abu Dhabi next week just as emphatically as they did after Perth last winter if they are to gain anything from this three-match series. It will not be easy.