England slump to humiliating 71-run defeat as Pakistan complete 3-0 series whitewash
England's miserable Test tour of the Middle East reached an appropriately sorry conclusion today with a 71-run defeat, and resulting 3-0 whitewash, against Pakistan.
England had to banish memories of their previous failings here to have any chance of pulling off the second-highest fourth-innings chase in their history.
In the end, despite Matt Prior's late defiance, they did not even come close on the way to a four-day beating at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
Game over: Pakistan broke England's resistance and sealed a comfortable win on day four
World's best England maintain their No 1 status, despite the crushing defeat
England v Pakistan: third Test
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For the record, they mustered 252 all
out in pursuit of 324 as Saeed Ajmal (four for 67) and Umar Gul (four
for 61) sentenced them to their first series whitewash since the Ashes
of 2006/07 which curtailed Andrew Flintoff's long-term captaincy
ambitions and hastened the end of Duncan Fletcher's coaching tenure.
No such watershed is in order this
time, after England's first series since completing their march to the
top of the International Cricket Council world rankings.
Their shortcomings, with bat but not
ball, have nonetheless been all too evident over the past three weeks –
and it is a measure of their fallibility that they should contrive to
lose this last Test after having Pakistan 44 for seven on the first
The hosts recovered to 99 all out,
yet this is the first example since 1907 of a team winning a Test match
after falling short of three figures at their first attempt.
Plenty to ponder: A number of England batsmen failed again – including Pietersen who was gated by Ajmal (below)
So often in this series, England's
out-of-form batsmen have simply been unable to establish themselves at
the crease in these alien climes against Pakistan spinners Ajmal and
The final act was merely a variation
on that theme, almost everyone coming through the 'danger period'
England identified at the start of each batsman's innings only to then
get out in pairs just when it seemed the habitual trend of failure might
conceivably be bucked.
The afternoon wickets of Kevin
Pietersen, Alastair Cook, Ian Bell and Eoin Morgan followed those of
Andrew Strauss and Jonathan Trott this morning.
Ajmal was the chief tormentor of
England's top order, bowling in tandem for much of the second session
with Rehman – who was unchanged for 30 overs.
Gul then accelerated England's
descent to defeat. But it was the slow left-armer who struck the first
blow when Strauss, who had already survived a straightforward
caught-behind chance off Gul, went without addition lbw on the back
Trott then fell shortly before lunch,
sweeping Ajmal straight to deep backward-square. Cook's luck was in
during an ultra-patient 187-ball 49 which took more than four hours.
Nemesis: England were undone by Ajmal (above) and Gul (below) once again
But England needed much more than a
touch of good fortune if their out-of-form batsmen were to achieve even
qualified redemption on this fair pitch.
Cook passed a notable personal
milestone when, with his 22nd run, he became the second-youngest batsman
in cricket history to reach 6,000 in Tests.
He ought to have gone last night,
dropped at third slip off Gul on just four, and this morning was put
down on 31 by Gul himself after mis-sweeping Rehman into the leg-side
He was also the batsman on strike
when Pakistan squandered their final DRS option, Ajmal reviewing an lbw
for an off-break that pitched outside leg-stump.
England had one precious review still
available, after Strauss used up the first one to no avail. But it was
to be no use to any of their frontline batsmen.
Pietersen hinted at much better when
he went up the wicket to Rehman and hit him for a straight four and then
six in the same over – shots that raised stoic England's scoring rate
to almost two runs an over.
Same old story: Cook managed a respectable 49 (above) but Bell's most recent failure (below) means he has averaged 8.5 in this series
But Ajmal, scourge of the tourists
with his doosras in the first Test here, out-thought both Pietersen and
Cook with conventional off-breaks this time.
He bowled Pietersen between bat and
pad, on the front-foot defence, from round the wicket – and then had
Cook, trying to push his 50th run to leg, very well-caught at slip by a
diving Younus Khan.
Bell and Morgan appeared to tame the
spinners with the old ball, only to fall in quick succession when
Misbah-ul-Haq turned back to Gul's pace.
It was a lack of that which did for
Bell, embarrassingly mistiming a cut for a simple catch at cover – and
then Gul produced a fine delivery to find Morgan's edge for a
caught-behind on the back foot.
England had lost two big wickets for
just three runs for the second time in the innings, a statistic they
could ill afford if they were to get anywhere near such a tough target.
All but the most fanciful hopes of
that were gone by tea – and although Prior and the tail tried to salvage
some pride with a counter-attack, it was little more than a token
effort from a team who may not now still be top of that Test table when
the annual awards are handed out at the start of April.
Party time! Pakistan celebrate completing the 3-0 series whitewash