DUBAI (Reuters) – Pakistan overcame the loss of Shan Masood in the first ball of the afternoon session to reach 178-3 at tea on the opening day of the second test against England in Dubai on Thursday as skipper Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan found their stride.
After the series opener ended in a draw, the veteran pair steadied the ship after Pakistan had slumped to 85-3, Masood’s (54) slight nick off James Anderson nestling in wicketkeeper Jos Buttler’s gloves.
That followed two brilliant morning catches from Jonny Bairstow, which must have made Misbah question his decision to bat first after winning the toss.
Misbah had done likewise in Abu Dhabi a week ago and Pakistan sauntered to 286-4 by the first day close on a lifeless pitch.
A similar pattern looked possible on Thursday as Masood and opening partner Mohammad Hafeez added two runs in the first three overs before cutting loose.
The duo raced to 47-0 from 15 overs, with England captain Alastair Cook replacing seamers Anderson and Stuart Broad with spinner Moeen Ali and paceman Mark Wood.
Moeen then tricked Hafeez (19) into edging a turning ball 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 (2), who lasted nine balls before trudging back to the pavilion.
The all-rounder, who made a double century in Abu Dhabi, slogged at Ben Stokes and the ball cannoned off Bairstow’s midriff at short-leg.
The fielder’s reactions were catlike as he sprang forward to snatch a one-handed catch as Pakistan reached 85-2 at lunch.
Anderson’s wicket proved to be England’s best moment of the afternoon session, with Rashid Ali – who veered between hopeless and mesmeric in the first test – again struggling.
The leg-spinner was clubbed around the Dubai International Stadium to be on 0-32 from seven overs.
Pakistan will resume with Misbah on 44 and Younis 56, the partnership of 93 coming off 161 balls.
Leg-spinner Yasir Shah, the fastest man to 50 test wickets in Pakistan history, returned to the hosts’ line-up after missing the first test with a back injury, Rahat Ali making way. England were unchanged.
Sharjah will stage the concluding test from Nov. 1.
(By Matt Smith , Editing by Peter Rutherford)