The first Test match between Pakistan and England is heading towards a draw, as Alastair Cook produced the third-longest innings in Test history to score 263, and guide England to 569-8 at the close of play on day four. Tom Sizeland reports from Abu Dhabi.
Cook lasted at the crease longer than England’s football and rugby World Cup campaigns combined, as his patience and determination throughout the six and a half sessions has left the visitors the happier of the two sides. It was the second-best score by an Englishman against Pakistan, and the highest overseas score since Wally Hammond’s 336 against New Zealand in 1933. It was his third double hundred, and he surpassed Jacques Kallis as the highest overseas run-scorer in Asia, with 2 058 runs.
England started the day on 290-3 with Cook on 167 and Root on three. It was yet another testing day in the field for the hosts, as their stand of 141 took England to 426-4, with Root falling for 85.
It was arguably at this stage that England could have showed a bit more intent to produce a result with a late burst and send Pakistan into bat in the evening session. While Ben Stokes looked good for his 87-ball 57, Cook still hovered around a 50% strike rate as they passed Pakistan’s 523, and carried on till close. Not to take anything away from what was a special innings from Cook, but it means this match will almost certainly be a draw.
Pakistan got a couple of wickets late on – Zulfiqar Babar got Jos Buttler for 23 in what was his 69th over of the innings – for England to finish on 569-8. The declaration may or may not come overnight, but it will take something extraordinary from the English to win this one. They have, however, avoided defeat, which means they’ve already improved on their last visit to the UAE, which Pakistan won 3-0.