By Matt Smith
DUBAI (Reuters) – Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq paid tribute to his batsmen after beating England by 178 runs in the second test on Monday.
The win put the ‘hosts’ 1-0 up in the three-match series and ensured they kept up their record of never having lost a series in their adopted home of the United Arab Emirates.
Having won the toss and elected to bat, Pakistan were always in control in Dubai, even allowing for England’s late belligerence.
Younus Khan (56 and 118), Misbah (102 and 87) and Asad Shafiq (83 and 79), batting at four, five and six respectively, produced polished displays while openers Mohammad Hafeez and Shan Masood scored half-centuries.
“With the way Asad Shafiq is batting, he is getting better and better with every test match,” Misbah told reporters after England were bowled out for 312 on the final day.
“Shan Masood is also there. He has been contributing well. Hafeez played a really good innings. Younus and me scored crucial runs but others are also contributing.”
Those performances mean Azhar Ali may find it tough to break back into the team for the third test in Sharjah that starts on Nov. 1.
Pakistan’s one-day captain was ruled out of the first test with injury and was then unable to get a visa in time for the second after returning home due to a family bereavement.
With a batting average of 48.17 this year after two centuries and two 50s, the selectors face a tricky decision over Azhar Ali.
One downside for Pakistan was Masood dropping three catches at short-leg on the final day that would have ended England’s resistance sooner.
“Shan is trying hard but obviously sometimes it happens that we miss chances,” said Misbah.
Masood’s blunders enabled England to add 119 for the last three wickets before Adil Rashid (61) was last man out when he lofted the ball into the covers with just 39 balls remaining.
“It’s a game of patience and they gave us a tough time and took the game so close,” added Misbah.
“Sometimes, even the last wicket can play for a whole hour or 15 to 20 overs. We know the pressure is going to be on them when close and that’s what happened.
“Rashid, who played really well, made a mistake and we just managed to win,” said Misbah.
(Editing by Tony Jimenez)