Joe Root made a half-century as England rallied to 130-3 at the close of the fourth day of the second Test yesterday, 360 runs behind Pakistan after the hosts’ Younus Khan had made a swaggering 31st Test century.
Root, 59 not out, put on 102 runs with Ian Bell (46), the duo’s second-innings defiance giving the tourists hope of forcing an improbable draw.
Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq had declared in the early afternoon on 354-6 to set England a daunting victory target of 491.
Batting for a second time, England appeared as if they cared little for the scoreboard and were simply aiming to get through potentially more than 140 overs without losing 10 wickets.
Pakistan were similarly unconcerned by the run rate, positioning four slips as Misbah began with an all-seam attack of Wahab Riaz and Imran Khan.
Moeen Ali (1) lasted 15 balls in another miserable outing for the novice opener, his series average now just 12 after a thick edge carried to Younus at second slip off Imran Khan.
In came Bell to partner skipper Alastair Cook, who appeared to be struggling with an injury that left him laboring between the wickets.
Cook’s (10) torment was soon over, his attempted sweep off Yasir Shah giving Wahab a catch at deep-backward square as England stumbled to 19-2.
Misbah switched from seam to spin and then back to pace, but Bell and Root defended adroitly.
Root brought up his 15th Test half-century, and his third of the series, with a four past third man.
Bell then tried to leave a Zulfiqar Babar delivery, but the ball hit his glove and carried to Younus. Jonny Bairstow was 6 not out.
Pakistan, who have never lost a series in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), their adopted home since 2009, began the morning on 222-3.
They suffered an early setback, though, when Misbah (87) thumped James Anderson’s slower delivery to Cook at mid-off for a comfortable catch.
Younus was unruffled and Pakistan’s record run-scorer registered his 10th century in the UAE with a cut for four as Pakistan reached lunch without further loss.
England were lethargic in the afternoon, their sluggish movement in the field allowing Pakistan to score freely.
That slowness lulled the hosts into complacency, though, as Younus (118) lofted a top edge from Adil Rashid beyond the bowler’s head and Moeen made a sprawling catch.
Asad Shafiq (79) was then trapped leg before wicket by Moeen as Pakistan scored 43 runs in seven post-lunch overs.
The highest total England have ever chased down successfully in the fourth innings is 332, against Australia in 1928-1929.
The first test in Abu Dhabi was drawn.
Sharjah is to host the final match in the series from Sunday.
SRI LANKA V WEST INDIES
The fourth day’s play in the second and final Test between Sri Lanka and the West Indies was washed out due to persistent rain yesterday.
The West Indies are set to resume their second innings on 20-1 today and need another 224 runs for a series-leveling win after the hosts won the first Test in Galle by an innings and six runs.
Shai Hope (17) was unbeaten overnight after his opening partner Kraigg Brathwaite (3) fell leg before wicket to paceman Dhammika Prasad on the final delivery of the second session on Saturday before rain washed out the entire final session.
The ground at the P. Sara Oval remained covered with Colombo receiving heavy overnight rain and more showers during the day.
The umpires made a couple of inspections during the day and finally called off play shortly after the scheduled tea break.