England hit back, Pakistan 378 all out

Lunch Pakistan 378 (Misbah 102, Shafiq 83, Wood 3-39) v England
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Hard work pays off for England

Pakistan’s first day’s batting in the Dubai Test had belonged to the staunch figure of their veteran captain, Misbah-ul-Haq. Such certainty was hard to find on the second morning as Misbah departed in the opening over and Pakistan’s lower order duly followed, sometimes skittishly. From an overnight 282 for 4, to end the innings at 378 will have left England hugely satisfied.

Asad Shafiq, 46 overnight, was the mainstay of Pakistan’s collapsing innings, last man out for 83, but even his smoothly-assembled innings was affected by the malaise. His innings ended in obvious discomfort as he was struck just above the knee by a low full toss from Mark Wood and, although he batted on, resorted to slogging and was soon picked up at short midwicket by Joe Root.

The wicket fell to Mark Wood, who had again been persistently aggressive and whose return of 3 for 39 in 19.5 overs in discouraging conditions represented his best Test figures.

It was a long session, two-and-a half hours, to take Friday prayers into account, and England used it productively: six Pakistan wickets falling for 96 in 28.5 overs, the innings conveniently ending at a time when they had no need to bat before the interval.

Misbah had struck a blow for the over-40s club on the opening day, but perhaps the old limbs were a bit stiff and mind a bit weary on the resumption. Stuart Broad took five balls of the first over to dismiss him, firing in three short balls, letting the fourth go astray down the leg side then finding a full length with the fifth delivery to have him lbw.

It was only the 13th incident of a Test hundred by a batsman of his age, 41, or older, and no Pakistan batsman had previously managed it. It was a classic Misbah innings: long periods of intertia interspersed by sudden bouts of aggression. Many over-40s would recognise the symptoms only too well.

Stuart Broad removed Misbah-ul-Haq in the first over of the morning
© Getty Images

Neither was Wood reluctant to fire in some short stuff as England put the onus on aggression. He was standing up to the task well considering the ankle problems that make him a risky proposition in back-to-back Tests. All England’s seamers had acquitted themselves well, conceding only 2.45 runs per over while the spinners had disappeared for 4.30. Alastair Cook might have wished to bowl his seamers a little more, but fast bowling is a taxing business out here and Wood’s vulnerability, Ben Stokes’ stomach bug and James Anderson’s Ming vase qualities argued the case for discretion

England have made good use of wicket-taking opportunities after intervals, keen to take any small advantage that might be available in batsman-friendly conditions. Another followed after drinks as Sarfraz Ahmed’s zestful knock came to grief with a dragged drive to mid-on where Anderson plunged forward to hold the catch. Wahab Riaz did not detain England for long, a frenetic visit ending with a top-edged skier to give Anderson a second catch.

Anderson had been warned on the first day for running on the pitch and a second warning followed as the Test resumed. It is a tendency over the past year that has caught the umpires’ attention and somewhat reckless, as far as England were concerned, with the legspin of Yasir Shah lying in wait and Pakistan to bowl in the fourth innings. In fact, never mind the fourth innings, Adil Rashid was beginning to find some purchase – albeit gentle – in the first.

Rashid became the sixth England bowler to take a wicket in the innings when Yasir had a swipe and Stokes held the catch at slip. Zulfiqar Babar then ducked a full-length delivery from Wood, so deceived that his bat missed the ball by several feet, his review (Pakistan had one to use up after all) at least giving the third umpire the chance for a bit of a chuckle.

That left Imran Khan: seven matches, three innings, no run. No other batsman had played more than three Tests without scoring a run. It was time for him to end the tomfoolery.

Shafiq gave him the benefit of a prolonged chat in mid-pitch and then tried to farm the strike. Imran’s first ball, from Rashid, brought a rudimentary leg-side hack which fell a yard short of Anderson at mid-on to cries in unison of “catch”. Then Shafiq was struck by Wood. Imran was not to face another ball. The wait goes on.

David Hopps is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps

ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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