By Matt Smith
DUBAI (Reuters) – Alastair Cook rued England’s first-innings collapse after his team came within 39 balls of forcing a draw in the second test against Pakistan on Monday, the second time the tourists have endured a bitter finale.
Last week England were 25 runs from a first-test victory in Abu Dhabi when they were denied by bad light. Dubai was even more cruel as Pakistan laboured to oust the touring side’s lower order with the clock running down.
“To win games of cricket here you have to be absolutely relentless for five days,” captain Cook told reporters after his side were bowled out with just 6.3 overs remaining.
“We have competed with Pakistan for nine and a half days. If you had given us two more overs in Abu Dhabi and two less here it could have been a different story.”
England were 206 for three on the third morning in Dubai but surrendered their last seven wickets for 36 as paceman Wahab Riaz ran riot.
“It is a real frustration,” said Cook. “It happens too often. Full credit to Riaz, he bowled really well, 90mph, reverse swinging, from different angles, with some short stuff thrown in.”
England rallied from 193 for seven after lunch on Monday to 312 all out with Adil Rashid’s maiden test half-century almost saving the game after they were set an improbable 491 to win.
“You always have belief in the team … but it was a long way back from that third morning and we probably didn’t deserve to get out of jail,” said Cook.
On Sunday, England’s backroom staff denied Cook was nursing an injury despite the captain visibly struggling to run.
He subsequently declared he was toiling with what is thought to be a groin problem.
“It was a bit frustrating yesterday,” said Cook who has played 119 consecutive tests since 2006.
“My body has been pretty good to me over quite a long period of time and it was little bit discomforting yesterday and a concern. It’s a bit better today. It should be fine.”
Cook hinted England could make changes for the final test in Sharjah that starts on Nov. 1.
“When you lose games or people haven’t performed as well as they would have liked you’re going to look at the team,” he said. “We’ve a good squad here and players itching to get on.”
Jos Buttler and Ian Bell are likely to have their starting places scrutinised.
(Editing by Tony Jimenez)