Rampant Pakistan edge out defiant England in nail-biting finish
Pakistan’s bowlers wore down a tough resistance from England’s tail to win the second Test by an emphatic 178-run margin in Dubai on Monday, taking a 1-0 lead in the three-match series. Leg-spinner Yasir Shah (4-87) and left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar (3-53) shared the bowling honours as England, set a daunting 491-run target, were bowled out for 312 late on the fifth day with just 6.3 overs left in the match at Dubai stadium. A win early in the day was very much on the cards, but England’s ninth wicket pair of Rashid and Mark Wood (29) put up a valiant fight for 29.2 overs through their 55-run partnership. Babar ended Wood’s resistance while Shah finished the match by ending Rashid’s 239-minute resistance by having him caught in the covers in the fading light as Pakistan fielders embraced each other. Pakistan had sensed victory at lunch with just four wickets to take but first Rashid and Broad frustrated them through their 60-run stand for the eighth wicket and then the Rashid-Wood stand lasted for nearly two-and-half hours.
Before tea Riaz bowled Broad to bring Pakistan two wickets closer to the win, but Rashid and Wood carried England to 285-8 at tea with 31 overs remaining to bat for a draw. Pakistan could have finished the game before the break but Mohammad Hafeez dropped a regulation catch in slip when Rashid edged a Shah delivery when on 42. Rashid completed his maiden fifty soon after tea, pushing for a quick single off Riaz. It took him 110 balls of defiance to reach the mark including five boundaries. In all Rashid batted for 172 balls, hitting seven boundaries. The victory was important for Pakistan after they narrowly escaped defeat in the first Test in Abu Dhabi when bad light helped them draw the match in final minutes. The third and final Test starts in Sharjah on November 1. Pakistan’s win came on the same day (October 26) when they achieved their first-ever Test win, against India at Lucknow 63 years ago.
England’s hopes of a fightback were pinned on Joe Root (71), who resumed cautiously on 59 as Pakistan attacked through Babar and Riaz. Root completed 3,000 Test runs when he reached 61 with a single off Riaz towards square-leg. He completed the milestone in his 34th Test and became the 41st English batsmen to score 3,000 or more runs in Test cricket. But Babar did not take long to dismiss Root with a sharp turner which took the edge of his bat towards the slips, where Younus Khan took a low catch. Root hit six boundaries off 171 balls. Jonny Bairstow, dropped on 11 off Babar, did not survive much longer as Shah bowled him through the gate with a sharp googly for 22 as England slumped to 163-5. Jos Buttler survived for 26 deliveries before Shah had him caught by Younus in the slips for seven as England went to lunch on 187-6.