By Matt Smith
DUBAI (Reuters) – England’s Stuart Broad believes the next hour’s play could decide the outcome of the second test against Pakistan after the tourists ended the second day on 182 for three, 196 runs behind but with Joe Root in precocious form.
Root and skipper Alastair Cook — test cricket’s top two run scorers in 2015 — came to the rescue after the early dismissals of Moeen Ali (1) and Ian Bell (4) had reduced England to 14 for two in reply to Pakistan’s first-innings total of 378.
“Tomorrow morning is probably the biggest hour in the game because if we can have a good start and get up to that second new ball maybe only losing one wicket we’ve a good chance to get past Pakistan,” Broad told reporters.
“After it (the ball) had gone past 40 overs the spinners really struggled to get much pace and turn out of it. If we can manage to get 400 plus on a deteriorating wicket we’ll be in the box seat.”
England scuttled Pakistan’s lower order before lunch in Dubai, claiming the final five wickets for 44 runs in another admirable showing in Pakistan’s adopted home of the UAE where the hosts have never lost a series.
“We have got ourselves in a position where we’re competitive in this game and that means we have to bat really well tomorrow and bowl the same as we did in the first innings,” said fast bowler Broad, who dismissed Pakistan’s captain Misbah-ul-Haq for 102 with the day’s fifth ball.
“If we apply that sort of pressure throughout a whole innings we’re due a cluster of wickets … (but) it’s quite dangerous in this part of the world to look too far ahead.”
Cook fell for 65, new spin sensation Yasir Shah’s first England test victim, but Root — the world’s second-ranked batsman — is unbeaten on 76 and eyeing a ninth century in 34 tests.
“He’s as good a player of spin as an Englishman that I’ve played with,” Broad said of the 24-year-old Root.
“He’s natural, doesn’t look panicked, doesn’t look rushed. He knows his areas to score and plays it. The way he judges length is brilliant. It doesn’t look like he’s panic sweeping, dancing because he’s not sure what to do.”
England drew the first test in Abu Dhabi, bad light ending play with the tourists 25 runs short of victory and six wickets in hand.
Sharjah will stage the last test from Nov. 1.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)