Resuming at 286/4, Pakistan scored their way to 523/8 before they decided that they had enough runs to play with. Malik’s double-century was ably complemented by Asad Shafiq’s century who piled on the agony for the tourists. After Misbah’s declaration, the opening duo of Alastair Cook and Moeen Ali stayed unbeaten at the crease to place England at 56/0 at the end of day’s play.
On a surface at which even the most accomplished of bowlers would struggle to find motivation and run-in, the England bowlers endured a cumbersome day. At one stage, it looked liked Alastair Cook’s men had run out of patience during the 1st Test at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Withering in the heat and arid pitch, the English were frustrated by a prolonged knock from the returning Shoaib Malik.
On the opening day of the match, England had dropped 2 catches and conceded a reprieve through a no-ball. The ramifications of Day 1 could be observed as the Pakistani batsmen looked intent on consolidated their already strong position. Malik and Shafiq overcame a testing hour with the second new-ball.
Once the shine wore off, the batsmen were left entirely untroubled as the duo batted on and on. Both batsmen began to launch an assault on the inexperienced Adil Rashid. On a day when the seamers gave it everything to restrain the batsmen, the spinners leaked runs consistently. Even though there was no reverse swing, the fast bowlers contained the well set duo.
At lunch, the exploits of both batsmen enabled Pakistan to reach 389/4. Malik did not offer any respite as he hammered a tired and weary England bowling attack. Moeen Ali also joined his spinning partner in disappearing to all parts of the ground. After a while, Ben Stokes observed that his medium pace would not work on a non-responsive pitch and switched to pursuing off-spin.
Finally, the breakthrough came for England and it came from Mark Wood who had persevered throughout the innings without any luck. While attempting an almighty slog, Shafiq was trapped in front to finally bring in Sarfaraz Ahmed.
Though it came too late, Ian Bell finally managed to latch on to a catch to send back Sarfaraz. Following his dismissal, Stokes claimed another wicket by snaring an exhausted Malik. Suddenly, Bell had 2 catches to his name.
After Zulfiqar Babar trudged back to the pavilion to grant Stokes a 4-wicket haul, Misbah called off his batsmen to test England’s newly formed opening partnership of Cook and Ali. Apart from surviving a close LBW shout against Rahat Ali, both openers did not seem too perturbed.
Wahab Riaz obliterated the pitch out of the equation by bowling with uninhibited pace and fire. Often clocking 90 MPH, Riaz posed an unique challenge to the England openers. However with the swing being negligible, Cook and Ali negotiated the 21 overs without any mishaps.
They got the first sighting of spin in the form of Zulfiqar Babar who bowled with sufficient control. Without the company of a menacing Yasir Shah, Babar will have to summon his vast experience if Pakistan were to entertain hopes of forcing a result on a docile surface.Published 14 Oct 2015, 20:22 IST