ABU DHABI (Reuters) – Younis Khan became Pakistan’s all-time leading run scorer in Test cricket and Shoaib Malik scored his first century in almost six years, as the home side posted 286-4 at the end of the opening day of the first Test against England in Abu Dhabi.
The 37-year-old Younis clobbered Moeen Ali for six over mid-wicket early in the evening session to surpass the 8,832-run marker set by Javed Miandad, the man considered Pakistan’s greatest ever batsman.
The few Pakistan fans in a sparse crowd in the United Arab Emirates broke the subdued atmosphere to cheer their man, while the Pakistan dressing room gave him a standing ovation for the feat achieved in his 102nd match — 22 fewer than Miandad, who played the last of his 124 Test matches in December 1993.
Younis was eventually out for 38, caught by England skipper Alastair Cook off the bowling of Stuart Broad, with Asad Shafiq (11 not out) and Malik (124 not out) unbeaten at the close.
If it was not for Younis, it would have been Malik’s day.
Returning to the side after a five-year absence, Malik hit his third Test century overall and his first since 2009.
It was a steady knock but one which contained one large moment of fortune: Broad overstepping in the first over after lunch rendered the edge to Joe Root in the gully irrelevant.
It was one of three gifts afforded to Pakistan during a day when England threatened to shoot themselves in the foot after being asked to bowl in hot conditions and on a track which offered little assistance to bowlers.
In the penultimate over of the day, Shafiq edged James Anderson to Ian Bell at second slip. It was the simplest of chances but Bell dropped it.
It wasn’t his only offence of the day.
Mohammad Hafeez breezed to 98 with some smart stroke-play, particularly against England’s debutant spinner Adil Rashid, before succumbing leg before to Ben Stokes’ last ball before tea.
However, the Pakistani opener should have been out for seven when Bell dropped him off the bowling of Anderson — who had already bizarrely dismissed Shan Masood for two with a bouncer which hit his helmet and deflected onto the stumps.
Also cursing his luck was Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq after being given out by the TV umpire for edging Anderson to wicketkeeper Jos Buttler but without any assistance from Snicko or Hotspot, which are not in used in this series.
The wicket would have been seen as reward for England, who having been plundered for 74 runs off 96 balls at the start of the evening session by Younis and Malik, tightened things up in the last hour of play.
The visitors were also boosted before a ball had been bowled, with Pakistan spinner Yasir Shah ruled out of the match with a back injury sustained in final practice on Monday.
Yasir was the fastest man to 50 Test wickets in Pakistan history and England had been ripped apart by spin during the last series in 2012.
(Reporting by David French; editing by Martyn Herman)