Pakistan v England: Joe Root and Alastair Cook lead tourists' reply

By James GheerbrantBBC Sport
Joe Root and Alastair Cook run between the wickets
Joe Root (left) and Alastair Cook recorded their third hundred partnership together in Tests
Second Test, Dubai, day two
Pakistan 378: Misbah 102, Shafiq 83, Wood 3-39, Moeen 3-108
England 182-3: Root 76*, Cook 65
England trail by 196 runs

Joe Root and Alastair Cook hit fifties as England made a strong start to their first-innings reply in the second Test against Pakistan, closing on 182-3.

Cook was caught for 65 but Root was unbeaten on 76 when bad light stopped play with the match evenly poised.

Earlier, the bowlers produced an excellent morning session in Dubai to reduce the hosts from a strong position of 282-4 overnight to 378 all out.

Mark Wood claimed two wickets to finish with 3-39, while Asad Shafiq hit 83.

Moeen Ali chipped in with two important wickets in the morning to record figures of 3-108 but he fared less well with the bat, caught at short leg for one in his second chance alongside Cook at the top of the order.

Under-pressure batsman Ian Bell followed soon after, out for four to leave England in trouble at 14-2, but after Cook and Root's fine rebuilding job, the tourists will be confident of challenging Pakistan's first-innings total.

The series is level at 0-0 after the first Test in Abu Dhabi was drawn.

Cook continues fine form

Alastair Cook bats
Alastair Cook is now the second top-scoring opening batsman of all time in Test cricket

England captain Cook looks to be back to his redoubtable best at the top of the order and he underlined his enduring class with another vital contribution.

In the week that he became the top-ranked opener in the ICC Test batting rankings,external-link Cook's knock was full of his characteristic virtues as a batsman - discipline, composure and obdurate defence - mixed with some expansive strokes as he looked to impose himself against the spinners.

But having brought up his 45th Test half-century, Cook would have been disappointed by the manner of his dismissal: lazily gliding a catch to leg slip off the bowling of Yasir Shah when he appeared set.

Root meanwhile is becoming England's man for a crisis, and after arriving at the crease with England in trouble, as he often did during the Ashes, he once again showed maturity to wrest back the initiative.

Playing with a typically assertive tempo - Root's Test strike rate in 2015 is 67 - he added 113 with Cook, before partnering Jonny Bairstow (27 not out) to see England through to the close.

Bell fails to quieten critics

While Cook and Root are increasingly crucial pillars of the England batting order, number three Bell remains under pressure after another unconvincing innings.

The 33-year-old right-hander pushed hesitantly at an away-swinging delivery from Imran Khan and was caught behind by Sarfraz Ahmed.

He now averages just 19 in his last 20 Test innings, with 14 scores of less than 15 in that time, although he scored 63 in the first Test.

"I would leave him out [for the next Test]," said former England batsman Geoffrey Boycott on Test Match Special. "You can't always live in the past. You have to find a settled batting unit."

Moeen and Wood impress with ball

Mark Wood
Wood only took one wicket in the first Test, but recorded the best figures of any England bowler in Pakistan's first innings in Dubai

England began the day strongly, with Stuart Broad striking in the first over to dismiss Pakistan captain Misbah ul-Haq lbw for 102.

The hosts fought back strongly through Shafiq and Sarfraz, but it was Moeen who made the crucial breakthrough after drinks, having Sarfraz caught at mid-on for 32.

The off-spinner then accounted for Wahab Riaz, caught slogging wildly for 6, before Wood mopped up the tail.

The Durham seamer dismissed Zulfiqar Babar lbw for 3 and then induced Shafiq to hit a catch to short midwicket.

However, it is leg-spinner Adil Rashid who is the leading wicket-taker in the series, after he dismissed Yasir Shah to pick up his first first-innings Test wicket and take his tally to six.

The stats

  • Alastair Cook is now the second top-scoring batsman of all time in Test cricket. He now has 9,080 runs at the top of the order, second only to Sunil Gavaskar (9,607).
  • Cook also brought up 1,000 runs against Pakistan - the sixth country against which he has achieved that feat. Only Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar have scored 1,000 runs against more different countries.
  • Moeen Ali picked up his 50th wicket for England, one year and 133 days after his debut. Only three England spinners have reached the milestone quicker: Roy Tattersall, Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar.
  • Of the 18 England post-war spinners with 50 Test wickets, Moeen has the best strike-rate (57.6).

What they said

Former England captain Michael Vaughan on Test Match Special: "For a long time now, I don't feel that Ian Bell has any sort of control, certainly in the first 20 balls of his innings.

"His technique just isn't looking after him, at all. If you take Edgbaston last summer out of it, when he smashed a few at number three, it's a while since we've felt comfortable about Bell. Tim Southee had him with little outswingers, so did the Australians and now it's happening against Pakistan. He has to iron out his technical problems."

Geoffrey Boycott: "It's fairly even stevens as I'm not sure what's going to happen tomorrow. Shafiq played very well, he was the quality player for Pakistan but he couldn't get them above 378 all out. I always say Moeen Ali's an ordinary bowler but he gets wickets which is a wonderful gift to have."