By Matt Smith
England were 25 runs short of claiming an unlikely victory against Pakistan on the final day of the first Test on Saturday with the tourists ending on 74-4 as bad light meant the match ended in a draw.
Spin duo Moeen Ali and debutant Adil Rashid (5-64) had helped reduce Pakistan to 173 all out from 139-4, which set England a target of 99 to win and about an hour’s batting remaining.
Alastair Cook’s men went on the offensive in a rejigged batting order.
Shoaib Malik trapped Jos Buttler (4) lbw and had Ben Stokes caught on two, while Moeen Ali (11) fell to Zulfiqar Babar as spin again proved lethal on what had been a lifeless Abu Dhabi pitch during the first four days’ play.
Jonny Bairstow smashed 15 off 10 balls before being stumped by wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed, while Joe Root’s unbeaten 33 was nearly as brisk as England scored 74 off 11 overs.
Pakistan declared on 523-8 on Wednesday, England then taking nearly three days to reach 598-9 in their first innings before skipper Alastair Cook called on the hosts to bat again mid-Saturday morning.
Speaking after the match, Cook said: “We’d have liked another three or four overs at the end to be honest but that’s the way it goes. I can’t fault the guys for hanging in there on that wicket.
“The pitch did deteriorate and spun more today which gave us hope, so it’s a bit of a bittersweet finish. We knew we had to put the pressure on Pakistan and then on the last day you never know. We played a good game and so did Pakistan. They were a bit sloppy today and we put them under pressure. That’s just the way it goes sometimes.
“It’s always strange going into a final day when you can’t lose a game, and it was brilliant from Adil Rashid who I think got some unfair criticism after the first innings. We saw there he’s a very fine bowler.”
Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq added: “We took the wrong options, especially me and Younis Khan. We could have easily been there for another 10 or 15 overs and the game would have been over. We made mistakes and ended up in a tough situation.”