DUBAI: Pakistan grabbed three wickets including the key scalp of Alastair Cook to sense victory in the second Test against England after Younis Khan smashed a century in Dubai yesterday. Pakistan will need another seven wickets to force a 1-0 lead in the three-match series after Younis’s brilliant 118 helped them set a daunting 491-run target for England. The first Test ended in a draw in Abu Dhabi. At close England were 130-3 with Joe Root unbeaten on a fighting 59 and with him Jonny Bairstow on six not out as they still need 361 for an unlikely victory or bat out the final day on a weary Dubai stadium pitch today.
It will be a tough task for the England batsmen as the pitch was offering turn with leg-spinner Yasir Shah and left-armer Zulfiqar Babar posing a real threat. Earlier Pakistan declared 35 minutes after lunch, with Younis scoring his 31st century, Misbah-ul-Haq 87 and Asad Shafiq making 79. England were tottering at 45-2 at tea but Ian Bell (46) and Root defied Paksitan bowling during their 102-run stand for the third wicket and looked to take England safely to stumps. But Babar broke the partnership when he spun a sharp delivery which Bell tried to leave but gloved it to the slip where Younis took an easy catch. Pakistan reviewed the not out decision by Australian umpire Bruce Oxenford and were duly rewarded.
Bell hit four boundaries during his 121-ball resistance packed knock. Root edged Shah through the slips to complete his 16th Test half century, his 12th fifty plus score in 2015 which is a new record for an England batsman beating Keith Fletcher’s 11 in 1973. He has so far hit five boundaries in his resolute 134-ball knock. It was Khan who provided Pakistan with an early wicket, forcing an edge of Ali’s bat to slip where Younis took the catch. Cook, who scored 65 in the first innings and 263 in the first Test, failed to keep a sweep off Shah down and was smartly caught at deep square-leg by Wahab Riaz.
Earlier, it was Younis who set the tone for a big target. Younis punched paceman Stuart Broad to the point boundary for his 11th four to reach three figures off 193 balls, his third hundred against England. He was finally dismissed as he tried to pace the run-rate, skying a catch off leg-spinner Adil Rasheed. In all he hit 13 boundaries during his 354-minute knock. Younis said he was happy to contribute to his team’s winning position. “My focus is always on doing well and I am happy that this hundred has helped the team,” said Younis, who expects a tough fight on the last day. “It will be hard work for us tomorrow because England has the capacity to fight and that will not make things easy for us.” Pakistan, resuming on 222-3, looked for quick runs.
Misbah had scored a brilliant 102 in Pakistan’s first innings of 378, but failed to add to his overnight 87. He played an uppish shot to a slower delivery from fast bowler James Anderson which landed in the safe hands of Cook at mid-off. Misbah hit eight boundaries and five sixes in his enterprising 147-ball innings. England’s bowlers toiled hard to check the flow of runs as leg-spinner Adil Rasheed conceded 107 runs before finally getting a wicket. Ali trapped Shafiq leg-before wicket to finish with 1-60. Shafiq hit eight boundaries in his 112-ball knock. He added 113 runs for the fifth wicket with Younis. Misbah declared the innings at the fall of Shafiq’s wicket. Anderson with 2-22 and Mark Wood 2-44 were the most successful bowlers. The third and final Test starts in Sharjah from November 1.—AFP