By David French
Alastair Cook and Moeen Ali negotiated the rest of the final session as England closed the second day of the first Test in Abu Dhabi on 56-0, after Shoaib Malik’s mammoth knock had inspired Pakistan to 523-8 declared.
Captain Cook finished on 39 not out, with Moeen unbeaten on 15, as the pair showed good application to see out the final hour and a bit.
Earlier, the 33-year-old Malik made the third-highest score ever by a Pakistan batsman against England before falling to Ben Stokes while attempting to drag the bowler from outside off stump through midwicket.
His shot found the hands of Ian Bell, who dropped two catches on the first day but managed to hold on to the chance above his head.
Soon after, Pakistan declared their innings, which had at its heart Malik but also contained significant contributions from Mohammed Hafeez (98) on day one and Asad Shafiq, who fell leg before to the third ball after tea for 107.
The latter’s exit brought the end of a 248-run stand with Malik, the highest fifth-wicket partnership for Pakistan against England.
Stokes ultimately ended with figures of four for 57, taking three wickets in the first 45 minutes after the tea break, with Sarfraz Ahmed (two) and Zulfiqar Babar (zero) falling tamely.
Prior to that drama at the start of the final session, it looked as though Malik and Shafiq would bat indefinitely as England struggled to generate anything close to a chance on a pitch that had offered the bowlers no support.
Adil Rashid ended with figures of 0-163 after 34 overs, the worst ever figures for a debutant in Tests.
Moeen, who also bowled 30 overs of spin without reward in Pakistan’s innings, nearly had to contemplate a second failure – this time with the bat.
Opening for the first time in first-class cricket, Moeen was on four when he survived a review of a delivery by Rahat Ali on “umpire’s call”, with everything else indicating out.
Cook also had a hairy moment on the second ball of the innings, chasing a wider one from Rahat, but succeeding only in chopping the ball back towards his stumps.
He stuck a hand out but resisted the temptation to catch it as he watched the ball fall a few inches behind the wicket.
Such patience will be needed on Thursday as England look to chip away at Pakistan’s imposing total.