Pakistan left it late to win the second Test against England by 178 runs, their dramatic victory ensuring that no matter the outcome in the final Test in Sharjah they will maintain their unbeaten run in the UAE.
Starting the day in need of seven English wickets to take a 1-0 series lead, Pakistan were denied by England’s tail for 82 overs of the day before they succumbed to 312 all-out with 39 balls left in proceedings.
It set up a tense final session as Pakistan went in search of England’s two final wickets and the visitors edged towards an improbable draw, but they fell agonisingly short in the end.
Adil Rashid provided England’s greatest resistance, registering his first Test fifty in a stubborn knock of 61 from 172 balls that lasted 239 minutes.
Rashid looked to have taken his side to a famous draw, only to suddenly go on the attack, driving Yasir Shah to cover in a sudden rush of a blood to the head that proved fatal for England.
Alongside Mark Wood (29), Rashid took England within 11.1 overs of a famous draw before the ninth wicket fell to bring James Anderson to the crease.
— ICC (@ICC) October 26, 2015
Their 55-run partnership for England’s penultimate wicket lasted 29.2 overs, a stunning vigil from the pair. It is the longest ninth-wicket partnership in the fourth innings of a Test match in history but proved futile in the end.
With 40 balls to go, it seemed like England were going to complete the most improbable of draws before Rashid’s moment of madness.
The task was enormous for the visitors at the start of play on the fifth and final day in Dubai.
England resumed on 130-3, knowing they would have to score the second-highest fourth innings total of all time to secure the highest successful run chase in Test cricket.
The target was 491, a further 361 runs required for an improbable win or the small matter of batting the day without losing their seven final wickets on a pitch eager to show how susceptible it was to the spin duo of Shah and Babar.
However, with Joe Root at the crease, England still believed that anything was possible.
But when England’s golden boy walked back to the pavilion, it was only a matter of time before Pakistan ripped through the tourist’s fragile middle-order.
At 10:48, less than an hour into the first session of the day, Root edged Babar to Younis Khan at slip to send the Yorkshireman packing for 71.
Root had earlier passed 3,000 Test runs in his 62nd innings, the fastest by an Englishman since 1970.
With every innings of substance he compiles as his team-mates fail around him, Root’s importance for England justifies the plethora of media puns regarding his anchoring ability.
— England’s Barmy Army (@TheBarmyArmy) October 26, 2015
Indeed, like a plant’s reliance on its root to sustain life, once Joe is pulled from the wicket, England seem moments away from death, energy sapped.
Here in Dubai, that is exactly what happened in both innings, Root’s wicket proving the side’s downfall at two pivotal moments.
When he departed for 88 in the first innings, England were 206-4 and 172 behind Pakistan’s first innings total.
Just 36 runs later, however, they were all-out.
In the second innings it took just six runs for fellow overnight batsman Jonny Bairstow to follow Root back to the pavilion as he played around Shah’s superb googly and was bowled for 22.
Shortly afterwards, Jos Buttler’s awful run of form continued, the wicket-keeper falling in near identical fashion to Root for 9 as England limped to 187-6 at lunch on.
I know Test cricket has trouble selling itself to the masses, but this is wonderful drama #pakveng
— Andrew McGlashan (@andymcg_cricket) October 26, 2015
It means Buttler now has just 34 runs from four innings in the UAE at an average of 8.50; he is increasingly likely to make way for James Taylor in Sharjah, with Bairstow taking over ‘keeping duties.
Rashid and Stuart Broad (30) denied Pakistan in an eighth-wicket stand worth 58 but it was purely an act of delaying the inevitable.
Wahab Riaz cleaned up Broad with a beauty of an in-swinging Yorker, further substantiating references to his similarity to Pakistan great Wasim Akram, to leave England 255-8 and staring at defeat.
Rashid’s knock was commendable, the leg-spinner showing far greater application than his first innings meltdown to highlight his ability with the bat lower down the order, but he will take some consoling after throwing his wicket away in such dramatic fashion.
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