Wickets tumbled at regular intervals as bowlers dominated on the second day of the Associate XI versus England clash in Dubai.
Thoughts at the start of the day suggested that England's much vaunted batting line up would dominate proceedings on the traditionally batting friendly pitches of the region.
When Alistair Strauss and Alistair Cooke advanced the overnight score of 16-0 to 44 without any undue alarms, it looked as if the Associate XI were in for a day of toil.
However Afghan paceman Hamid Hassan (2-26) removed Strauss (17) and ICC International Player of the Year Jonathan Trott (1) in quick succession, forcing England onto the back foot.
The prolific Cook looked in fine fettle, scoring boundaries at will, being particularly fluent through the off side region. He and Kevin Pietersen shared a 53 run stand to settle England, taking them to 107 for 2 just after lunch.
England hopeful Boyd Rankin (2-49) however set a dramatic collapse in motion, having Pietersen (15) and Warwickshire team mate Ian Bell (3) caught behind by Mohammed Shahzad.
Eoin Morgan made just a single before being caught by his fellow countryman Paul Stirling off the bowling of Mohammed Nabi. Cook then fell to first day batting hero Christi Viljoen (1-42) for a well manufactured 76 (14 fours, 121 balls).
Steve Davies (12) was trapped lbw by Majid Haq's first delivery (top photo), and Nabi (2-42) then dismissed Stuart Broad (19) to leave England reeling on 159 for 8 - having lost 6 wickets for 42 runs.
Graeme Swann (14*) and Jimmy Anderson (12*) took England to 185-8 before Andrew Strauss declared, 96 runs in arrears.
Much like the first innings, the Associates were soon in deep trouble at 11-3 with William Porterfield and Paul Stirling both failing to score, and Saqib Ali making just 2. Craig Williams (11) followed soon after to leave them reeling on 31 for 4.
Kyle Coetzer dug in, and in conjunction with the enigmatic Mohammed Shahzad gradually rebuilt the innings. Coetzer made 31 before playing on to Broad (2-15), but there were no further losses as Shazad (34*) and Nabi (9*) took the score to 90 for 5 at the close.
A crucial morning session in store for both sides, with the Associates hoping to extend their lead of 186 towards the 250-300 mark, setting up an intriguing run chase in the final sessions.
The Associate XI will have to defend their target without the services of Hamid Hassan, (right) who suffered a knee injury colliding with a picket fence whilst attempting to prevent a boundary.
The good news for Afghan followers was that following a hospital visit and scan, there was no serious diagnosis, and he will be fit to face Pakistan in their historic ODI later this month.