ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Half centuries by captain Misbah-ul-Haq and Asad Shafiq helped Pakistan recover to 256-7 against butterfingered England on day one of the second test on Wednesday.
Misbah, who won the toss, was unbeaten on 83 while Shafiq made a composed 58 as scratchy fielding allowed them to put on a century-stand for the fifth wicket.
What was expected to be a batsmen’s pitch turned out to have more life than Pakistan expected. England, despite its missed chances, still made stumps with hopes of bowling out Pakistan for under 300, while the home side could harbour confidence of passing 300 as long as their captain stayed at the crease. He’s already been there for nearly four hours.
“We have lost two wickets more than we would have liked,” Pakistan opener Taufeeq Umar said.
“The good thing is Misbah is still there and if we manage a 300-plus total then our spinners have a good chance because spin on this pitch has surprised everyone.”
Misbah, dropped on 30 by James Anderson, hit five fours and four sixes. Shafiq, dropped on 53 by Alastair Cook close to the wicket, hit seven boundaries and a straight six off recalled spinner Monty Panesar.
Misbah took 142 balls to raise his half century but finished the day with a flourish by hitting Panesar for successive sixes in the last over.
England captain Andrew Strauss contributed to the poor day in the field when he floored a chest-high catch of Adnan Akmal before the batsman had scored, off Anderson’s second delivery with the second new ball.
Pakistan was struggling at 103-4 just after lunch, but Misbah and Shafiq resisted for more than two hours to regain momentum.
Misbah lofted Panesar for two successive sixes over the long on boundary early in his knock, but waited patiently thereafter to hit his first boundary after tea as the wicket eased out for batting.
Shafiq struggled for nearly half an hour but gained confidence with some crisp boundaries on both sides of the wicket. He brought up his half century with a sharp single off Panesar before he was caught on the back leg by Graeme Swann while attempting a sweep shot.
Earlier, Mohammad Hafeez (31) and Umar (16) provided a steady start of 51 runs.
The openers were little troubled in the first hour and put on 41. Hafeez cut Swann’s very first delivery to backward point for a boundary, but soon the offspinner got his line right and bowled well in tandem with Panesar as the Sheikh Zayed Stadium pitch, which usually is a featherbed for batsmen, began offering assistance to both spinners.
Swann uprooted Umar’s off stump when the left-hander offered no shot to a straight delivery and Panesar bowled Hafeez off a beautifully bowled arm ball, only a delivery after dropping the batsman off his own bowling.
Stuart Broad provided England a sniff of running through the opposition when he sent Younis Khan’s (24) and Azhar Ali’s (24) off stumps cartwheeling in the second session in space of five runs.
Broad, who took 3-47, trapped Akmal for 9, then Swann, with 3-52, brushed the off stump of Abdur Rehman for a duck late in the day.
Panesar, playing his first test since 2009, replaced paceman Chris Tremlett, who has a back injury and will be flying back home.
Pakistan also made one change from the side that won the first test by 10 wickets, with fast bowler Aizaz Cheema making way for young paceman Junaid Khan.