In a thrilling contest in Dubai, Pakistan held their nerve and emerged victors over England by 178 runs to take a 1-0 lead in the 3-match Test series. However, Misbah-ul-Haq’s men were put to the sword by a resilient performance from the lower-order batsmen.
Adil Rashid led England’s efforts at survival with a 172-ball 61 and he was ably supported by the likes of Mark Wood and Stuart Broad. But, Yasir Shah’s exemplary control ensured that Pakistan doused the visitors’ hopes of an unlikely draw.
Earlier, England began cautiously after resuming the day on 130/3. With a gentle flick of the pads, Joe Root became the 2nd youngest Englishman to reach 3000 Test runs after the legendary Herbert Sutcliffe.
However, his patient innings ended almost immediately when he edged a flighted delivery from Zulfiqar Babar into Younus Khan’s safe hands. Unlike in the 1st innings, there was no controversy this time as Younus’ catch was a clean one.
Root’s dismissal sparked a lower-order collapse as Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler went in quick succession. Yasir Shah’s well-disguised googly accounted for Bairstow who was caught on the crease.
Shah removed Buttler with an admirable display of leg-spin. Instilling pressure on the flat-footed 25-year-old wicket-keeper batsman, Shah’s remarkable control, and unending turn reminded the onlookers of a certain Shane Warne as Buttler could only offer a straightforward catch to Younus Khan.
Ben Stokes’ uncomfortable stay finally came to an end as he could not resist slashing at a wide reverse-swinging ball from Imran Khan. It seemed as if things were unraveling rather rapidly.
When Stuart Broad arrived in the middle, Misbah ul Haq surprisingly did not bring back the fiery Wahab Riaz. Broad built an useful partnership with Adil Rashid as he helped himself to the inconsistent bowling of Imran.
After some calamitous scenes, Wahab Riaz broke the partnership with a stinging reverse-swinging yorker which could not have been negotiated by even a top-order batsmen. Mark Wood joined a determined Rashid with still more than a session left.
Mark Wood decided to counter-attack Wahab Riaz’s pace by smashing him for 3 boundaries in the same over. After a testing period in there were innumerable fields surrounding the bat, Wood hung on grimly to frustrate the Pakistan bowlers.
Finally, the breakthrough happened when Zulfiqar Babar coerced Wood with a loopy delivery and Mohammad Hafeez held on to a sharp chance at slip. The final batsmen was James Anderson who had batted for more than a hour and almost managed to obtain a draw against Sri Lanka at Headingley in 2014, only to fall just short.
He managed to stave off 13 balls and raised thoughts of preventing a defeat. But, Adil Rashid was tempted by Yasir Shah’s enormous drift as he tried to slog him over extra-cover. In the end, he could only find Babar and England’s defiant fightback ended.
The final Test of the series will take place in Sharjah from November 1-5.
Pakistan 378 & 354/6 decl.
England 242 & 312 (137.3 overs)Published 26 Oct 2015, 18:45 IST