Imagine a Test match where the first two innings racked up a grand total of 1121 runs and the third innings has not even begun by the morning of the fifth and final day. Now imagine that test falling just 25 runs short of a result due to poor lighting. Only such a Test could involve possibly one of the most interesting teams in cricket, Pakistan.
It was the first of three Tests between England and Pakistan and Abu Dhabi had produced possibly one of the most limp and lifeless pitches in recent times. Pakistan had not only failed the game, they had failed themselves. They had failed to back their bowlers. Failed to back the likes of Wahab Riaz who put on one of the most incredible pace bowling performances in recent history. The first four days of the Test came and went with two batsmen scoring 200+ runs each (with Cook scoring 250+) but nothing else happened. Once again Test cricket was clearly doing everything in its power to drive away the few fans it has left. Each wicket came at almost 70 runs apiece in the first four days and a result looked about as likely as dogs playing poker.
The fifth day had finally come and with a lead of 74 England finally declared. It was easy to assume Pakistan would play out the day and give their bowlers an hour max to have a whack at England when they had 150 on the board. However, this was not how the day played out.
The Gods had finally taken it into their own hands to produce a wicket for some exciting cricket. The almighty had come to reward England for their hard work and in particular, a debutante leg-spinner who had bowled his heart out in the first innings to no effect. Adil Rashid became the hero of the hour as he picked up five wickets in Pakistan’s second innings. Within 14 runs, Pakistan’s tail had fizzled out. Rashid had opened up the gates to the possibility of a victory as England only needed 99 runs to win the game.
The Test had finally come to life. The visitors had more than enough overs to make the total. It was the sun they were chasing. In a full-blown T20 style attack from the batsmen, England came within inches of the finishing line. Moeen Ali was joined by Jos Buttler to open the batting. They were going full steam ahead with boundaries right from the word ‘go’. Runs came and wickets fell. Joe Root, with some assistance from Ali and a smashing six from Jonny Bairstow off Wahab Riaz, took England as far as they could. England ended on 74-4 as the day came to close. A score which would look extremely poor from the outside, but not from inside the Sheikh Zayed Stadium. The score showed hope and belief. Something Pakistan will need for the coming Tests.