DUBAI: Rival captains Misbahul Haq and Alastair Cook praised England’s figthback which delayed Pakistan’s victory in the second Test in Dubai, hailing batting from the tail on a difficult last day pitch on Monday.
Pakistan’s 178-run win only came with 6.3 overs remaining in the day with England’s ninth wicket stand of 55 between Adil Rashid (61) and Mark Wood (29) lasting for 29.2 overs and just coming up short.
At tea, Pakistan needed just two wickets to wrap up a 1-0 lead in the three-match series but Rashid and Wood left them frustrated until Zulfiqar Babar (3-53) had Wood caught in the slips and Yasir Shah (4-87) dismissed Rashid in fading light.
The first Test ended in a draw with the final Test scheduled for Sharjah from November 1.
Misbah admitted it was tense to see the match on the brink.
“Obviously it was tense in the end,” said Misbah after recording his 19th win as captain the most for Pakistan.
“It was touch and go and I think credit to England as it was tough to play on the last day pitch in the last innings when the ball was turning from the rough and two quality spinners were bowling.”
Pakistan had set England a daunting 491-run target, with their bowlers raring to bowl the team to victory.
“Obviously we missed a few chances, but I still think a win is a win, no matter how close it was, and you must give credit to the bowlers for getting them out in two innings,” said Misbah of his bowlers.
Paceman Wahab Riaz finished with five wickets in the match and his 4-66 which helped Pakistan bowl England for 242 in the first innings earned him man-of-the-match.
Asked whether at any point he believed the match was slipping away, Misbah said: “No, I think when there are two wickets left it’s a two ball game and you are always in the game,” said Misbah.
“It’s game of patience. Obviously they just gave us a tough time and took the game so close and that is the beauty of this game and that is why all of us want to play this game and love it.”
Cook praised Rashid’s character.
“He’s obviously very disappointed. But what great character he has shown,” Cook said of Rashid, playing only his second Test.
Cook said England scoring 136 short of Pakistan’s first innings total of 378 made the difference.
“You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to realise when you lose 7 for 60; when you start day one as a fairly even day, then day two we had a pretty good day then we were about 190 behind with seven wickets left and we ended up 340 behind with them having seven wickets left.
“To win games of cricket out here you have to be absolutely relentless for five days. We did that in Abu Dhabi and came up just short. You know they will score runs because it’s a flat wicket, but however good a spell of bowling is, you can’t lose 7 for 60.”
Riaz triggered that England collapse on day three during his nine over spell, taking 3-15.
Cook hopes he will recover in time for the third Test after suffering a groin problem.
“It was a bit frustrating yesterday. My body has been pretty good to me over quite a long period of time. It was a little bit discomforting and a bit of a concern but it’s pulled up a bit better today.”