Late Ajmal burst slows up England’s progress

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England believe they are still in a promising position to push for a series-levelling victory in the second Test against Pakistan despite losing three late wickets to Saeed Ajmal.

Alastair Cook (94) was the first of three frontline batsman to fall to the off-spinner, for the addition of only nine runs, as England closed day two on 207 for five.

They nonetheless still appeared well-placed to eke out a first-innings lead - one which will be invaluable when it comes to batting last on a pitch already favouring spin.

Cook lamented the late twist in the tale.

But he insisted too England more than shaded the exchanges, having taken three Pakistani wickets for just one run yesterday and then reached 166 for one at one stage on the back of a century stand between himself and Jonathan Trott (74).

“I wouldn’t say we’ve thrown it away,” said the steadfast opener.

“We’re only 50 behind, and we’ve got Belly (Ian Bell) and Matt Prior - excellent players - at the crease, and our lower order did well in [the first Test in] Dubai.

“In the absolutely ideal world, you’d be sitting here with two or three down.

“But credit to the way Pakistan bowled in that last half-hour, and made it extremely tough.”

Ajmal (three for 67) had to wait until the 25th over he bowled to add to the 10 wickets he took last week, but he provided a stern test throughout.

India’s Sachin Tendulkar again failed to convert a promising start into a landmark and long-awaited 100th international hundred when he was sent packing for 25 as Australia took control of the fourth test at the Adelaide Oval. Tendulkar was caught by Ricky Ponting off the bowling of Peter Siddle.

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