Joe Root took the attack to the Pakistan bowlers with an enterprising half-century to guide England to 182-3 at close of play on the second day of the second Test in Dubai on Friday.
Root, unbeaten on 76, built the innings after England lost the key wicket of skipper Alastair Cook as they fought hard against a pace-cum-spin Pakistan attack on a Dubai stadium pitch.
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With Root was Jonny Bairstow on 27 as England were 196 behind Pakistan’s first innings total of 378 with seven wickets intact.
The first Test in the three-match series ended in a draw in Abu Dhabi last week.
Cook, who hit an epic 263 in the first Test, added 113 runs for the third wicket with Root as the pair negotiated leg-spinner Yasir Shah and left-armer Zulfiqar Babar with confidence.
They built on the early loss of Moeen Ali (one) and Ian Bell (four) and challenged Pakistan’s superior bowling attack.
Cook reached his 45th half-century with a flicked boundary off paceman Imran Khan before he was caught off a leg-side push off the bowling of Shah.
Cook hit 10 well-timed fours during his 117-ball stay.
Root was more aggressive, taking a single off Shah to complete 15th fifty to continue his excellent form in 2015 in which he had already passed the 1,000-run mark before this series.
Root has so far hit nine fours during his 118-ball stay.
Pakistan seamers Wahab Riaz and Imran Khan had given their team an early breakthroughs in the post-lunch session.
Ali was smartly snapped up at short-leg off Riaz while Bell edged one from Khan before Cook and Root led the fightback.
Cook survived a confident leg-before appeal off spinner Zulfiqar Babar on 27 as his attempted sweep hit his pads and the ball deflected on to the stumps and despite having an impact the bails were not removed.
Pakistan also unsuccessfully reviewed a leg-before shout when Cook edged Riaz’s delivery on to his pads when on 41 as England flourished in the second session.
Earlier, Pakistan, resuming at 282-4, lost their last six wickets for 96 runs in the two-and-a-half hour session, extended due to Friday prayers.
Seamer Mark Wood (3-39) and Ali (3-108) shared the bowling honours.
Asad Shafiq scored 83 before he was caught by Root off Wood, 17 short of his hundred.
He hit nine fours off 178 balls and valiantly attempted to reach his century as he was running out of partners.
Pakistan suffered an early jolt when skipper Misbah-ul-Haq was dismissed off the fifth ball of the day, trapped leg-before by paceman Stuart Broad.
Misbah, who had not added to his overnight score of 102, reviewed Australian umpire Paul Reiffel’s decision but the replays showed the ball was hitting the leg-stump.
Misbah hit eight fours and five sixes during his 197-ball stay at the crease.
Shafiq added 52 with Sarfraz Ahmed (32) before Ali struck twice by having Ahmed and Wahab Riaz (six) caught at mid-on to leave Pakistan at 342-7.
Shah scored a quick 16, including three fours.