Monty Panesar
England\'s Panesar reacts as umpire Steve Davis looks on during the second cricket test match against Pakistan at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. REUTERS

A litany of missed chances marred England's progress in an otherwise impressive display by the tourists on a cool, windswept opening day of the second Test in Abu Dhabi.

Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook are usually amongst England's most reliable hands but the pair put down eminently catchable chances on Wednesday. Nevertheless, James Anderson made the costliest indiscretion when he dropped Misbah-ul-Haq with the Pakistan batsman on 30. He closed the day's play 82 not out.

Monty Panesar, making his first appearance since that innings against Australia in 2009, also put down a less-than-straightforward chance but the bowler rectified his mistake with a sustained spell either side of lunch that strangled the Pakistan attack, while Stuart Broad wrought havoc at the other end.

England's bowling quartet performed admirably under difficult conditions (mostly self-imposed) in the first Test. It is unlikely that Strauss and Andy Flower would have considered it necessary to change that aspect of the side were it not for Chris Tremlett's latest injury. But the fast bowler suffered a recurrence of the back injury that has plagued his international career on the eve of this match and Panesar found himself, alongside Graeme Swann, Anderson and Broad, as part of a surprise four-man attack - the first time England have played two spinners alongside two quicks since Sri Lanka in 2003.

Having lost the toss, Pakistan elected to bat and Strauss wasted little time drafting Panesar into the attack in the 10th over. The off-spinner started short and a little wide but quickly harnessed that skittish energy, finding some turn outside off-stump and pinging Taufeeq Umar on the back foot with a ball that was rising inches over leg stump.

England Cricket
England players look on as Pakistan\'s Asad Shafiq leaves the field after being dismissed during the second cricket test match against Pakistan. REUTERS

Umar was gone in Swann's next over, the opener completely misreading a straight ball from Swann that claimed his off stump. And Panesar should have claimed his first wicket the following over but put down a difficult chance low to his left off Mohammed Hafeez. Perhaps unnerved by his let-off the previous ball, the next delivery Hafeez played back to a Panesar arm ball that broke flatter than he was expecting and skidded past his inside edge.

Here was Panesar's first wicket since he bowled Ricky Pointing for 150 at Cardiff in July 2009 and thereafter he bowled with greater fluidity and confidence, albeit without any further reward.

He finished the day with figures of 1-91 but he bowled many more overs - 33 - than any other England bowler and could count himself unlucky not to claim the wicket of Misbah when Anderson spilled a slip catch soon after lunch.

One hallmark of England's rise up the Test rankings has been their superiority in the field but this series has demonstrated a marked decline in that aspect of their game. Whether this deterioration is merely a temporary blip will become apparent in the coming months but England did not out-field Pakistan in the first Test and they were again lax on Wednesday.

Strauss was next to put down a relatively straightforward chance, when Adnan Akmal sliced the second new ball high to his right. Earlier, Cook only managed to get a right hand to a bat-pad chance that Asad Shafiq looped up off Swann. Fortunately, Shafiq only added a few more to his 53 before Swann caught him lbw going for a slog-sweep.

Overall, England's half-and-half bowling attack worked well. Anderson was his usual diligent self, unlucky not to pick up a wicket for a concerted spell with the second new ball. And Broad, the consummate English bowler, worked hard to find a degree of seam movement on a dry pitch and was justly rewarded with the wickets of Azhar Ali and Younis Khan, both of whom lost their off-stumps driving at balls that nipped back off a length.

Nonetheless, Pakistan came back into the match in the evening session and, despite the loss of two cheap wickets at the close, should back themselves to reach 300 with Misbah providing stoic resistance for his 83. Any score north of that mark and England's batsmen will be casting nervous glances in the direction of a certain Saeed Ajmal.