Cook defiant as England trim Pakistan lead

ABU DHABI: England captain Alastair Cook was unbeaten on 78 as the tourists reached 122-1 against Pakistan at lunch on the third day of the first test on Thursday.

England had resumed on 56-0 with Cook and new partner Moeen Ali - England’s seventh opening pair since the retirement of Andrew Strauss in 2012 in obdurate mood.

A maiden first over was followed by 26 runs in the following six as Pakistan’s twin attack of spinner Zulfiqar Babar and pace man Wahab Riaz found little joy.

Cook was the dominant batsman, an angled drive for four bringing up his 45th test half-century off 75 balls, while Mooen provided able support.

Pakistan made a strong appeal for lbw against Cook from a wicked delivery by Zulfiqar, but the ball struck pad outside off stump as England reached 100 without loss with a clipped single to point from their captain.

The flat Abu Dhabi wicket had made England’s spinners suffer and their Pakistan counterparts similarly toiled.

But pace man Imran Khan found success when he dismissed Moeen for 35, an outside edge carrying to wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed to put England on 116-1.

That wicket was the highpoint of an aggressive spell from Pakistan as captain Misbah-ul-Haq rotated his attack, using six bowlers.

England, now on the defensive, saw their scoring slow to a crawl and registered just 17 runs in the final 14 overs before lunch, with Cook’s new partner Ian Bell on one not out.

Pakistan declared on 523-8 on Wednesday.