England coach Trevor Bayliss insists their agonising draw in the first Test against Pakistan is proof that his side can prosper in the previously perilous subcontinental conditions of the United Arab Emirates.
Fading light prevented England recording a stunning victory on Saturday having routed Pakistan for just 173 in their second innings. The tourists were 99-4, just 25 runs short of a 1-0 series lead, when play was halted with eight overs of the final day remaining.
Despite being ranked No1 in the world Test rankings, England were trounced 3-0 on their last visit to the Middle East in 2012, and Bayliss believes their showing in Abu Dhabi hints at a sea change.
“I think it’s a sign for the boys that they are not only able to compete but that maybe with a little bit more luck or a little bit more time that they are able to win and are able to play some good cricket here on these slow turning wickets,” he said.
Yorkshire leg-spinner Adil Rashid claimed 5-64 in Pakistan’s second innings to recover from the ignominy of posting the worst ever figures – 0-163 – for a bowler on Test debut.
But Bayliss reserved his greatest acclaim for skipper Alastair Cook who scored 264, the third double century of his international career, to lead England’s response to Pakistan’s gargantuan first innings total of 523-8 declared.
Cook shattered records along the way, batting for 836 minutes and clocking up the third-longest innings by time in Test history. It was the lengthiest by an Englishman, topping Len Hutton’s 797-minute knock against Australia in 1938.
“It’s one of awe, I think,” said Bayliss, when asked for his reaction to Cook’s innings. “It’s just an unbelievable will to concentrate for that long, an unbelievable effort.
“There are some very good players in both teams but for someone to bat like that from the top of the innings, I think he spent over four days on the field, his powers of concentration are just superb.”