England all-rounder Ben Stokes has backed under-fire leg-spinner Adil Rashid to rediscover his poise after enduring the worst debut in Test history as his side’s bowlers were put to the sword by Pakistan in Abu Dhabi today.
A toiling Rashid returned figures of 0-163 from his 34 overs, surpassing the 0-149 posted by Australia leg-spinner Bryce McGain on his debut against South Africa in 2009, as Pakistan racked up 523-8 declared on a benign track. England were 56-0 at the close.
There was a crumb of comfort for Yorkshire’s Rashid after being saved the ignominy of becoming England’s most expensive Test debutant. That unwanted record is held by seamer Devon Malcolm, who shipped 166 runs against Australia at Trent Bridge in 1989, although he did take a wicket.
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“Adil’s quite a laid back character,” said Stokes. “I am sure he will be hurting inside to not get a wicket. The two weeks that he’s spent here in preparation he’s been bowling absolutely brilliantly.
“He was quite unlucky not to get a wicket. On another day he could have got three or four. I am hoping that when Adil gets to bowl the next time, he will produce a spell that will change the match.”
There was no joy at all for any of England’s slow bowlers as Rashid, Moeen Ali and Joe Root, plus Stokes with an over of off-breaks, failed to take a single wicket and leaked a total of 302 runs.
Stokes claimed three of the four wickets to fall on day two, including that of Shoaib Malik, but not before the former Pakistan captain had racked up 245, his maiden Test double hundred, to make the most of his no-ball reprieve on Tuesday.
The 33-year-old, playing his first Test match since 2010, shared 248 with fellow centurion Asad Shafiq, who was dropped on 10 in the penultimate over on day one, to set a new record for Pakistan’s fifth wicket against England.
It was the tourists’ seam department that finally did the damage as Pakistan homed in on their declaration target in the day’s final session. Shafiq was trapped LBW by Durham seamer Mark Wood for 107, while a late wicket flurry gave Stokes figures of 4-57.
“Bowling in itself, out here in these conditions in the heat, is hard and then just standing in the field watching the overs tick by and watching the runs pass by is very hard,” added Stokes.
“All of our bowlers, seamers and spinners, have worked very hard and I think as a bowling unit we’re very proud of what we’ve done.”
England navigated 21 overs to retain their full complement of batsmen ahead of what promises to be a challenging third day. Skipper Alastair Cook was the more fluent of the two in making 39 not out, while Moeen finished unbeaten on 15.