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Two gloriously uncertain Tests in the desert

Adil Rashid leaves the field after so nearly guiding England to victory in Dubai

Adil Rashid leaves the field after so nearly guiding England to victory in Dubai
©REUTERS / Action Images

With England chasing a daunting 491 to win the second Test in  Dubai, agile leg-spinner Yasir Shah and slow left-armer Zulfiqar Babar, on a wearing pitch on day five, found turn at the right moment to hand Pakistan a 1-0 lead by sharing seven wickets.

The balls pounced upon the batters and made the English middle order look fragile. The final hope of saving the game for England was Joe Root, who had perished after facing 171 balls to score 71 which included six fours. Root’s average is 63.00 since 2013, a phenomenal effort on the part of the young Englishman.

Moments before tea, Wahab Riaz sent back Broad and Pakistan were two wickets away from the victory, only for Adil Rashid and Mark Wood to fight hard inch England towards a historic draw.

Cricket - the game of glorious uncertainties was being proved again over after over.

The duo had batted for 29.2 overs and their partnership had enthralled the viewers, swinging the mood of a sparse crowd. Back home, an earthquake had claimed many lives on this unfortunate day. Meanwhile Rashid had scored his maiden fifty.

The bowlers spun their webs, setting close-in fielders, but the English duo went on defending and scoring runs. They were ready to write a new chapter in the history books, the curtains were drawn and shadows had occupied the ring of fire.  

Battling out every ball, Wood produced a marathon innings with the bat - defending, defending, and then defending some more, batting for two hours while Rashid faced 172 balls to bat for nearly three hours. The dramatic and magnificent resistance came to an end when Wood and Rashid were removed in the dying overs of the match.

Tahir Ibn Manzoor is a freelance journalist from Indian-held Kashmir. He considers himself as a Test match blogger, who follows cricket like food.

Technically the wall at a grubby courtyard where he had scored runs in tons eating bunswhile feeding hens in a coop – normatively and narratively TORPID –statistically averages MINUS who aimed BIRDS and WINDOW PANES of his neighbours with his nine-year-old ALPHA BAT that died over a FREE-HIT.

The wicket-keeper batsman once in a blue moon tried OFF-SPIN andLEG-SPIN but failed in a long run. Now, he virtually bats @TahirIbnManzoor down the order.

Not for the first time in the series, England had almost pulled off the unexpected.

After the bowlers received a pounding in the first Test at Abu Dhabi, the match was heading for an ominous draw. Nobody had given it a thought that Pakistan's batting would collapse in the first Test in such a way after teams had piled up such big scores in the first innings.

The Abu Dhabi turf bled runs and wickets had dried up for the bowlers, who had bowled their hearts out. The humidity was the first to kill the vigour of bowlers and later batters followed suit.

Meanwhile, double tons were scored by the sublime batters of the two teams. Rock-solid, Shoaib Malik’s thunderous comeback mastered everything and set the tone after five long years away from Tests and England captain Alastair Cook’s 263, during his 836 minutes of batting and a 14-hour stay at the crease for two days said it all; how to lead teams from the front with grit and
determination.

Cook's was the longest innings ever played by an Englishman and the third longest of all time in cricket history.

Alastair Cook's innings in Abu Dhabi was an extraordinary feat...

Alastair Cook's innings in Abu Dhabi was an extraordinary feat...
©REUTERS / Action Images

Tossing the ball up and making good use of the Abu Dhabi dust Rashid, in his debut test, returned worrying figures during his first innings. Equally Babar was out of sorts - the spinner's wheel was rusted for a while.  

Video - Pakistan go 1-0 up in Dubai

The persistent Wahab - who could forget his spell against flamboyant Shane Watson in the World Cup and five-wicket haul in the semi-final in Mohali against India? - was consistent and impressive once again while bowling his heart out on day four, produced outstanding spells throughout the match. His wrist position has seen him off colour for not doing much at the ground, but he was back with his bouncers. On the other hand, Imran Khan junior was quick and up to the task.

41-year-old captain Misbah-ul-Haq would have probably wanted to see promising leggie Yasir Shah, who was suffering from a back problem, in the team. Shah was the one who could have led the spin attack to open the floodgates. Malik had filled the boots of another spinner and claimed some crucial wickets in the middle, pumping his fists.

In the second innings, the pitch had a different turn. Moeen Ali opened the floodgates, Rashid spun a web around Pakistan and almost spun England to a thrilling victory after his five-for.

Malik then set a record for the highest score (245) among batsmen who have scored more than 100 and a duck in the same Test match, going past the previous best of 242 by former Australian captain Ricky Ponting against India in 2003.

...but so too was Shoaib Malik's, even if he set an unwanted record in the process

...but so too was Shoaib Malik's, even if he set an unwanted record in the process
©REUTERS / Action Images

The England bowlers sent shockwaves through the Pakistan dressing room. The game became topsy-turvy, unpredictably Pakistan were bundled out for 173 and England needed 99 runs to win. Despite there being less than an hour left, the England batsman went after Pakistan and got so close when bad light closed in, drawing the curtains on the game.

But Pakistan don't lose in Abu Dhabi. Pakistan have never lost a series against any team in the UAE. In 2012, Andrew Strauss led the side and lost both the Tests played in Abu Dhabi largely thanks to the efforts of spinners Saeed Ajmal and Abdur Rehman.

Younis played aptly to anchor Pakistan’s ship in the second Test after Misbah made 102 in the first innings. Younis, who had scored five Test tons in nine Tests played in Dubai, reached number 10 spot on the list of all-time Test centurions after scoring his 31st century - a record for Pakistan.

Before this three-match Test series Younis had scored 8,814 runs in 101 Tests. He required just 19 runs to surpass his hero Javad Miandad’s tally of 8,832 runs, who scored those runs in 124 matches.

Meanwhile Ian Bell is finding it quite different in the middle. He has now played 21 innings without scoring a ton, scoring more than 50 in only three of his past 21 Test innings.

On the other hand, Root, in his 34th Test, became the 41st overall and second youngest to score 3,000 runs in Test cricket. The youngest? England captain Cook.

Joe Root (left) is finding things considerably easier than Ian Bell at the moment

Joe Root (left) is finding things considerably easier than Ian Bell at the moment
©REUTERS / Action Images

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