Dubai: Opener Alastair Cook was the only batsman to get some good practice as England's batting crumbled against some spirited ICC Combined XI bowling in their three-day tour opener here on on Sunday.
The left-hander held the batting during his patient knock as none of the England batmen could score big on a slow Global Cricket Academy pitch, spurning a good chance ahead of the first Test against Pakistan starting here from January 17.
Cook added 53 for the third wicket with Kevin Pietersen (15) before England declared their first innings on 185-8.
Combined XI finished the second day on 90-5, having an overall lead of 186. They scored 281 in their first innings.
Resuming at 16-0, England had reached 44 when skipper Andrew Strauss (17) fell to Afghanistan paceman Hamid Hassan who finished with 2-26.
Hasan also dismissed Jonathan Trott (one) with a beautiful delivery, caught behind by his fellow Afghan Mohammad Shahzad.
Cook, who hit 14 well-timed boundaries during his 121-ball knock, also fell caught behind off Namibian medium pacer Christi Viljoen.
Besides Pietersen and Trott, Ian Bell (three) and Eoin Morgan (one) also failed to get going.
Off-spinner Mohammad Nabi finished with 2-42 while Irish paceman Boyd Rankin took 2-49.
Cook attributed his team's batting failure to lack of action in the middle.
"It wasn't ideal and I think we have to put that down to a little bit of rustiness.
"Credit to the opposition though, especially Rankin who I thought bowled very well.''
Cook said England, who last played a match in September, lacked rhythm.
"I think if you haven't batted outside for probably four months in a game with whites and the red ball, it does take a while to get into that rhythm. In an ideal world, a few more lads would have spent a bit more time in the middle, but it's not the end of the world.
"When you have that much time off, it's really good and nice to have it, but it does take a little bit longer to get into that rhythm and you hope you haven't lost the movement," Cook said.
England have another three-day match, against a Pakistan Cricket Board XI in Dubai, before the first Test.
Cook was self-analytical about his batting display.
"There were a couple of played and misses early on that I missed, rather than nicked.
"It's important to spend that time in the middle because no matter how many nets you have, the rhythm and the tempo of subcontinent cricket does take a while to get used to so it's nice to do that."
Irish openers William Porterfield and Paul Stirling flopped again as both failed to score in Combined XI's second knock, and it was left to Kyle Coetzer (31) and Shahzad (34 not out) to keep the Combined XI in a position to give England a stiff target.