England skipper scores unbeaten 168 to leave side 290-3 on largely uneventful day
England captain Alastair Cook dished out a resolute century to lead his team’s remarkable fightback in the first Test against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.
Cook made 168 not out for his 28th hundred — fifth against Pakistan — to anchor England to 290-3 at stumps on the third day on a flat Sheik Zayed Stadium pitch.
Cook added an invaluable 116 for the first wicket with opener Moeen Ali (35) and another 165 for the second wicket with Ian Bell, who made a hard-fought 63.
Joe Root was the other unbeaten batsman on three as England still trail Pakistan’s mammoth first innings total of 523-8 (dec) by 233 runs with seven wickets intact.
Read: 1st Test England stay firm after Malik’s maiden double ton
Pakistan were hoping their big total would put England under pressure but Cook, a better batsman against spin than his teammates, took the fight to the Pakistani bowlers who managed just three wickets in the day.
It could have been only one wicket but paceman Wahab Riaz (2-79) dismissed Bell and nightwatchman Mark Wood (four) in successive overs late on in the day to ensure that the hosts finished the day on a high.
But it was Cook who took the honours with some determined batting. He drove Wahab for an exquisite cover drive for his 10th boundary to complete his century before tea.
When on 93, the England skipper also completed 1,000 runs in only his 11th Test this year; only the second batsman to reach 1,000 runs in 2015 after teammate Root, who is at the crease along with the left-hander.
Read: Malik inspired Pakistan declare at 523-8 in first Test against England
On 101, Cook survived a confident leg-before appeal as he missed a sweep off left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar, with Pakistan unsuccessfully challenging Australian umpire Paul Reiffel’s decision.
Babar was again unlucky when substitute fielder Fawad Alam failed to hold on to Cook’s uppish sweep, with the batsman on 147.
Cook took two on that lapse and two balls later completed his 150, off 282 balls, with a single. In all he has so far hit 15 boundaries off 329 balls.
Pakistan also used part-time spinners Shoaib Malik and Asad Shafiq but it turned out to be a nightmarish pitch for the slow bowlers, with 130 overs of spin failing to get a single wicket.
Read: Younis becomes Pakistan’s highest run-scorer in Test cricket
England spinners Adil Rashid, Ali, Root and Ben Stokes, who bowled one over of gentle spin, also failed to get a single wicket in a combined total of 70 overs.
Cook and Ali resumed the day at 56-0, bringing up the century stand in the first hour of play as Pakistan attacked through pace at one end and spin from the other.
At 116, left-hander Ali edged an outgoing delivery from paceman Imran Khan to wicket-keeper Sarfraz Ahmed, who took a low catch to his left.
Babar was unlucky not to have Bell four overs before lunch when close-in fielder Shan Masood failed to hold on to a sharp chance at silly point.
Bell, who survived some anxious moments in the second session, hit five boundaries in a snail-paced 199-ball knock before driving Wahab straight to Mohammad Hafeez at backward point.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 16th, 2015.
Like Sports on Facebook, follow @ETribuneSports on Twitter to stay informed and join in the conversation.