ABU DHABI, Oct 16, (AFP): Alastair Cook played the third longest innings in Test cricket as he scored a monumental 263 to help his team into the lead over Pakistan in the first Test in Abu Dhabi on Friday. The skipper batted for 836 minutes to guide England to 569-8 at close on the fourth day to thwart Pakistan’s pace-cum-spin attack on a flat Sheikh Zayed Stadium pitch.
But even on a docile pitch it needed a strong resolve from Cook as he came to the crease in the last hour of play on the second day under the pressure of a big total of 523-8 declared by Pakistan.
As well as the nominal hosts’ bowling attack, Cook also battled hot conditions as the first of three matches in the series heads for an inevitable draw, barring an extraordinary batting collapse by Pakistan on Saturday.
He finally played a tired looking sweep off spinner Shoaib Malik and was caught at backward square-leg by Shan Masood, ending his 528-ball knock which had 18 boundaries.
Pakistan’s Hanif Mohammad holds the record of the longest Test innings with 970 minutes during his 337 against the West Indies at Bridgetown in 1958, ahead of South African Gary Kirsten’s 878-minute knock during his 275 against England at Durban in 1999.
Cook added 141 for the fourth wicket with Joe Root (85) and another 91 for the sixth with Ben Stokes (57) after England resumed at 290-3.
Jonny Bairstow made just eight before becoming Wahab Riaz’s third victim, trapped in front of the wicket.
Left-arm paceman Riaz was the pick of Pakistan bowlers with 3-116 while spinner Shoaib Malik took 2-97.
It was a nightmarish pitch for the spinners as the first wicket to a slow bowler came in the 171st over when Malik bowled Stokes.
Pakistan’s frontline spinner Zulfiqar Babar managed just one wicket in his 70 overs conceding 180 runs.
At close Adil Rashid was unbeaten on six and with him Stuart Broad has yet to score as England lead by 46 runs.
It was Cook’s third double century that enlivened an otherwise dull day.
Cook flicked Riaz to backward square-leg for two to complete his double century off 395 deliveries, the second of the match behind Shoaib Malik’s 245 for Pakistan.
Cook reached his 250 after tea, taking a single off Babar.
Root said Cook’s long batting has set an example.
PAKISTAN 1st innings 523-8 declared (Shoaib Malik 245, Asad Shafiq 107, Mohammad Hafeez 98; B. Stokes 4-57)
ENGLAND Ist innings (overnight 290-3)
- Cook c Masood b Malik 263
- Moeen Ali c Ahmed b Khan 35
- Bell c Hafeez b Riaz 63
- Wood b Riaz 4
- Root c Ahmed b Rahat 85
- Bairstow lbw b Riaz 8
- Stokes b Malik 57
- Butler c Shafiq b Babar 23
- Adil Rashid not out 6
- Broad not out 0
Extras: (b7, lb5, nb10, w3) 25
Total: (for eight wkts; 196.3 overs) 569
Fall of wickets: 1-116 (Ali), 2-281 (Bell), 3-285 (Wood), 4-426 (Root), 5-443 (Bairstow), 6-534 (Stokes), 7-549 (Cook), 8-563 (Butler)
To bat: J. Anderson
Bowling: Rahat 26.3-1-73-1, Khan 25-6-72-1, Babar 70-17-180-1, Riaz 33-3-116-3 (10nb, 3w), Shafiq 7-0-19-0, Malik 35-4-97-2
Umpires: Bruce Oxenford (AUS) and Paul Reiffel (AUS)
TV umpire: Sundaram Ravi (IND)
Match referee: Andy Pycroft (ZIM)