Alastair Cook’s 263 gives England lead, Test heads towards draw

England wickets fell in a flurry toward the end, with Ben Stoke (57) and Jos Buttler (23) also falling along with Alastair Cook; Test heads towards draw.

By: AP | Abu Dhabi | Published:October 16, 2015 7:58 pm
Alastair Cook, Alastair Cook England, England Alastair Cook, England vs Pakistan, Pakistan vs England, Eng vs Pak, Pak vs eng, cricket news, cricket Alastair Cook was out after scoring a splendid 263. (Source: Reuters)

A marathon knock of 263 by captain Alastair Cook gave England the lead, but the first Test against Pakistan meandered toward a draw at the end of the fourth day Friday.

Cook became only the third batsman in the history of Test cricket to bat for more than 800 minutes in an innings with his patient 528-ball knock that lasted 836 minutes. The two players who have played longer than him are Pakistan’s Hanif Mohammed (970 minutes vs West Indies in Bridgetown in 1958) and South Africa’s Gary Kirsten (878 minutes vs England in Durban in 1999).

At close of play, and England was 569-8, 46 ahead of Pakistan’s first-inning total of 523-8 declared.

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It was Cook’s third double century in Test cricket, and his second highest after the 294 he made against India in Birmingham in 2011. He survived two chances – one on 147 on Thursday and then on 173 in the fourth over Friday morning when a Riaz delivery cut back and took his inside edge, but wicket-keeper Sarfraz Ahmed dropped a difficult chance diving low to his right.

Cook fell in the 191st over of the inning, top-edging a sweep off Shoaib Malik to Shan Masood at backward square leg. He hit only 18 boundaries, which meant he ran 191 runs in the extremely hot conditions.

Wickets fell in a flurry toward the end, with Ben Stoke (57) and Jos Buttler (23) also falling along with Cook.

A spinner finally got a wicket when Malik dismissed Stoke, who was bowled while trying to give the bowler a charge. Buttler’s wicket was taken by Zulfiqar Babar in his 69th over of the inning.

England lost two wickets in the session after lunch – Joe Root departing 15 runs short of a well-deserved century and Jonny Bairstow for eight.

Wahab Riaz (3-116) was Pakistan’s most successful bowler, and his spell included one late in the second session when he also accounted for Bairstow and troubled Stokes no end with his reverse swing.

The visitors did not lose a single wicket in the 2 1/2-hour pre-lunch session – to cater for a one-hour lunch break for Friday prayers – and added 110 runs in the 33 overs. However, it was slow going in the second session with 26 overs yielding 68 runs.

Cook and Root put on 141 runs for the fourth wicket, the third century partnership of the inning.

Cook reached his 200 in 395 balls when he whipped Riaz to the square leg for a couple.

England needed 11 overs to get their first boundary of the day, but once Cook swept Babar for four, both batsman started to open up a bit, with Root playing some delightful drives and pull shots in making his 14th Test fifty in 83 balls. His 85 featured seven hits to the fence, including an audacious upper cut of a Riaz bouncer.

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.

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