Alastair Cook called incorrectly for the third time in a row and Misbah-ul-Haq duly condemned England’s bowlers to another day in the field by choosing to bat in the final Test. There were two changes on each side, with England bringing back two players who have not played a Test since 2012.
The most surprising was a recall for Samit Patel, his sixth Test cap and first since the tour of India in 2012, to form part of a three-man spin attack – something Pakistan had decided the conditions did not warrant. Misbah’s theory was that it “might not turn”, though a relaid square was an unknown quantity. Cook was more convinced after England played two warm-up matches in Sharjah.
Another Nottinghamshire player James Taylor, whose last Test came against South Africa more than three years ago, made a more expected comeback, replacing the out-of-form Jos Buttler as Jonny Bairstow took the gloves. Mark Wood had already been deemed unfit for three Tests in succession, a blow to England as they looked to level the series.
Misbah gave Cook a consoling pat on the back after winning the toss yet again, Pakistan’s UAE magic extending beyond the official hours of play. He confirmed Azhar Ali and Rahat Ali would take the places of Shan Masood and the Imran Khan in the XI, with Azhar expected to open for only the fourth time in Tests.
Pakistan 1 Mohammad Hafeez, 2 Azhar Ali, 3 Shoaib Malik, 4 Younis Khan, 5 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), 6 Asad Shafiq, 7 Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), 8 Wahab Riaz, 9 Zulfiqar Babar, 10 Yasir Shah, 11 Rahat Ali
England 1 Alastair Cook (capt), 2 Moeen Ali, 3 Ian Bell, 4 Joe Root, 5 James Taylor, 6 Jonny Bairstow (wk), 7 Ben Stokes, 8 Samit Patel, 9 Adil Rashid, 10 Stuart Broad 11 James Anderson.