Misbah-ul-Haq, Pakistan’s captain, said that he knew through a testing final session of the second Test in Dubai that victory was “just a matter of two balls” but the late resistance that his team encountered from a spirited England tail was “frustrating”.
England started the final day on 182 for 3 and, having lost out their last seven wickets for 36 runs in the first innings, they seemed to be facing a mid-afternoon defeat at the latest after both overnight batsmen, Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow, fell before lunch.
But the game turned into a dramatic finish when England’s lower, inspired by Adil Rashid‘s maiden Test fifty, a 172-ball innings of 61, resisted hard to take the game deep into the final hour.
Rashid and Stuart Broad added 60 runs in 15 overs for the eighth wicket before Broad fell to a superb yorker from Wahab Riaz, but Mark Wood proved even more indomitable as he and Rashid clung on for a further 29 overs to take the match beyond tea.
“Obviously in these sort of games you have to look at all the points,” said Misbah. “When they were batting in the morning, we got breakthroughs but then, after getting eight wickets, there was a partnership and that was frustrating.
“This is actually a game which changes in a couple of balls but at times it doesn’t happen, even the last wicket can play for an hour or 15, 20 overs,” he added. “But we knew that it’s there and obvious. The pressure is on them when the game is close and that’s what happened. Adil was playing well and he committed a mistake and we won.”
Rashid was left crestfallen when, with 39 balls of the match left to negotiate, the return of a refreshed Yasir Shah, armed with a sharp leg-break, tempted him to hit his way through the encircling close catchers. He spooned a looping drive to short cover, as England were bowled out for 312 after 137.3 overs of stout defence.
As had been the case in Abu Dhabi, the defining feature of England’s performance was resilience as they once again gave Pakistan a major scare. They were helped, however, by some lax fielding, with as many as four catches going begging on the final day.
“It was tense in the end, because it was touch and go,” said Misbah. “I think credit to England as it was tough to play on a last-day Dubai pitch, in the last innings, when the ball was turning from the rough and two quality bowlers were bowling. Obviously we missed a few chances, but I think still a win is win, no matter how close it was.”
Misbah was especially impressed with the ninth-wicket partnership between Rashid and Wood.
“They were not in any sort of hurry and weren’t panicking,” he said. “When you are playing like that, less bothered about the good ball, you are just concentrating on the next so that was the impressive factor.
“It’s all about the game of patience,” he said. “They just gave us a tough time and took the game so close and that is the beauty of this game. That is why all want to play this game and love this game.”
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo’s Pakistan correspondent. @kalson
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