A double century by comeback man Shoaib Malik and his 248-run partnership for the fifth wicket with Asad Shafiq on Wednesday gave Pakistan the upper hand at the end of the second day of the first Test against England in Abu Dhabi.
Chasing a massive Pakistan first innings total of 523-8 declared, England’s openers made an assured start and were 56 without loss at the close of play. Captain Alastair Cook was unbeaten on 39, while his new opening partner Moeen Ali was on 15.
Pakistan’s innings was built around Malik’s 245 runs in his first Test match in more than five years, and an eighth Test century by Shafiq (107). “Both Malik and me had planned to be patient and try not to lose our wickets. We knew we will get the runs if we stuck around,” Shafiq said.
Starting the day on 286-4, England’s hopes hinged on a couple of quick early wickets with the new ball, which was used for just three overs on Tuesday, but Malik and Shafiq dug in and Pakistan did not lose a single wicket in the first two sessions.
Malik’s previous highest was 148 not out against Sri Lanka in Colombo in March 2006, and he crossed that mark and reached his 150 with a streaky shot off Mark Wood. He then carried on despite the hot conditions, and accelerated after the first hour as he attacked the spinners. Malik’s innings lasted more than 10 hours and he faced 420 balls for his 245.
He came in at the fall of the first wicket with the score on 5 in the third over and he was seventh to go in the 150th over. Captain Misbah-ul Haq then declared the innings a couple of overs later when Zulfiqar Babar became the fourth victim of Ben Stokes, the most successful England bowler with four for 57.
Shafiq reached his century in 193 balls, sweeping leg-spinner Adil Rashid for a boundary. He made the most of the one chance he got when he was dropped by Ian Bell off James Anderson in the second-last over before close of play on Tuesday, hitting 10 fours in 218 balls.
The fifth-wicket partnership was finally broken when Shafiq tried to pull Stokes on the third ball after tea and was out leg before. Sarfraz Ahmed soon followed, hitting a leading edge to Bell at mid-off. Malik was struggling with cramps when he finally smashed one straight to a relieved Bell at short mid-wicket.
The worrying part for England was the ineffectiveness of the two spinners - Rashid and Moeen were wicketless in 64 combined overs giving away 284 runs. Rashid’s was the most expensive debut in Test history for a bowler who did not take a single wicket in his first innings, as he went for 163 runs in 34 overs.
“It wasn’t the kind of debut Adil wanted, but they looked to target him and it could have easily gone the other way,” Stokes said. “We know how well he can bowl having played him these last couple of weeks. I also think he was a little bit unlucky not to get some wickets. So, I hope it will go his way when he is bowling the next time.”
Misbah brought in spin in the form of Zulfiqar Babar as early as the fifth over when England started their reply, but Cook and Moeen were never in trouble.
Meanwhile, England had a setback when Steven Finn was ruled out of the remainder of the tour with a bone stress injury to his left foot. He will return home for further assessment and fast bowler Chris Jordan is flying in for the two remaining Test matches and the ODIs.
Pakistan has played seven Test matches at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, winning four, including the last two by massive margins against Australia (356 runs) and New Zealand (248 runs) and drawing the other three. It won the only test match here against England by 72 runs in 2012.