Dubai: Pakistan's bowling once again sparkled to leave England struggling towards another defeat and a series whitewash on the fourth day of the third and final Test on Monday.

Set a daunting 324-run target England limped to 173-6 at tea and face a certain defeat on a weary Dubai Stadium pitch which saw Pakistani spinner Saeed Ajmal (3-44) and paceman Umar Gul (2-31) destroying their top-order.

At the break, Matt Prior was unbeaten on ten and Stuart Broad was batting on four. England still need 151 to win with Pakistan needing four wickets for a win.

England, 89-2 at lunch, were still in with a chance with Alastair Cook (49) and Kevin Pietersen (18) batting well but they lost four wickets in the space of 84 runs, leaving Pakistan on the brink of a first-ever 3-0 whitewash over their opponents.

Pakistan won the first Test here by ten wickets and the second by 72 runs in Abu Dhabi.

Pietersen, who struggled for runs in the series, hit Abdul Rehman for a boundary and then hoisted him for a six to post England's 100. But Ajmal struck from the other end.

The off-spinner produced a beautiful delivery to bowl Pietersen through the gate for 18, a mere 67 runs for the series during which he was out to spinners on five occasions.

In his next over, Ajmal produced another sharp turning delivery which caught the edge of Cook's bat and was smartly held by a diving Younis Khan in the lone slip.

Ian Bell (10) and Eoin Morgan (31) added 37 for the fifth wicket but again failed to produce a big score in the series as Gul dismissed them in the space of just three runs.

Pakistan could have been in a better position in the morning session had they not dropped two crucial catches, the first off Strauss on 26 when wicket-keeper Adnan Akmal grassed a simple chance off Gul.

But that didn't hurt Pakistan as Rehman trapped England captain in the very next over. Strauss challenged the decision by Australian umpire Steve Davis but his review failed.

Gul then let off Cook at 24 when he failed to hold a top-edge sweep off Rehman.

Cook had also benefited from a drop catch on Saturday when Taufiq Umar let him off in the third slip off a miscued drive off Gul when he was four.

(Agencies)