By Matt Smith
ABU DHABI (Reuters) – Captain Alastair Cook hit an unbeaten double-century and Joe Root provided ample support as England sauntered to 400 for three against Pakistan at lunch of the fourth day of the first test on Friday.
The top scoring pair in tests during 2015 were rarely troubled in another tortuous session for bowlers on Abu Dhabi’s flat, slow pitch with a draw looking the most likely outcome for the opener of the three-match series.
Cook went to the interval unbeaten on 204 – 90 runs behind his best test score – and Root was 76 not out after England had resumed on 290-3 in response to Pakistan’s 523-8 declared on Wednesday.
None of the 11 wickets to fall in this test have been to spin, the unblemished track enabling easy defence to the turning ball.
However, Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq, again began with the economical left-armer Zulfiqar Babar in attack.
At the other end was Wahab Riaz following his removal of Ian Bell (63) and Mark Wood (4) late on Thursday.
The paceman’s early in-swinger nicked Cook’s inside edge, but Sarfraz Ahmed was sluggish to respond and the ball landed beyond the floundering wicketkeeper.
It took England 12 overs to register their first boundary of the day when Cook swept Zulfiqar for four.
Root then suffered a scare as Misbah called for a review after Imran Khan’s in-swinger struck the Yorkshireman’s pad.
Hawk-Eye indicated the ball would have clipped leg stump, but Root was so far advanced down the pitch that the umpire’s original not out decision stood.
Misbah then introduced Rahat Ali and Shoaib Malik but to little effect as England racked up 110 runs in 33 overs without loss, Cook reaching 200 with two runs off a flick to fine leg.
(Editing by John O’Brien)