By Matt Smith
DUBAI (Reuters) – Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq made an unbeaten century as the resurgent hosts reached 282-4 at close of the opening day of the second test against England in Dubai on Thursday.
Following a draw in the series opener, Misbah helped steady his side after two brilliant morning catches by the indomitable Jonny Bairstow and James Anderson’s 418th test wicket from the first ball of the afternoon had reduced Pakistan to 85-3.
At that moment, Misbah, 41, may have been regretting his decision to bat after winning the toss, but he and Younis Khan (56) put on 93 from 179 balls before Pakistan’s record run scorer was caught behind by England wicketkeeper Joss Buttler off Mark Wood.
Asad Shafiq, 46 not out, joined Misbah at the crease. The skipper will resume on 102 after chalking up a ninth test century by slogging Moeen Ali for 15 off the day’s final over that included two sixes.
Pakistan, playing in their adopted home of the UAE, were heavy favourites going into the series after whitewashing England 3-0 here in 2012.
Yet the tourists were disappointed not to seal an unlikely win in Abu Dhabi last week, bad light stopping play when England were 25 runs from victory with six wickets in hand after a frenzied final day.
In Dubai, Pakistan again batted first on expectation the pitch would become harder to play as the test progresses.
Openers Shan Masood and Mohammad Hafeez raced to 47-0 from 15 overs after making only two runs in the first three overs.
England captain Alastair Cook, who named an unchanged side, switched seamers Anderson and Stuart Broad with spinner Moeen and paceman Mark Wood as he sought an early breakthrough.
Moeen struck first, tricking Hafeez (19) into edging a turning delivery onto his pads. The ball looped up for Bairstow to make a diving catch as Pakistan slipped to 51-1.
Next in was Shoaib Malik but he lasted only nine balls for his two before trudging back to the pavilion.
The all-rounder, a double-centurion in Abu Dhabi, slogged at Ben Stokes and the ball cannoned off Bairstow’s midriff at short-leg.
The fielder’s reactions were cat-like as he sprang forward to snatch a one-handed catch.
Pakistan progressed to 85-2 at lunch but immediately after the interval Anderson fooled Masood (54) into nicking a ball into Buttler’s gloves, which lifted the 33-year-old to ninth on test cricket’s all-time wicket-taking list.
That proved to be rare moment of afternoon joy for England as Pakistan exploited the tourists’ aggressive close field to score briskly.
Adil Rashid — who veered between hopeless and mesmeric in the first test — again struggled, the leg-spinner ending on 0-60 from 13 overs.
Pakistan leg-spinner Yasir Shah, the fastest man to 50 test wickets in his country’s history, returned to the hosts’ line-up after missing the first test with a back injury, Rahat Ali making way.
Sharjah will stage the concluding test from Nov. 1.
(Editing by Peter Rutherford/Martyn Herman)