Bullish assistant coach Paul Farbrace insists England have no option but to adopt a positive mindset despite staring down the barrel of defeat in the second Test against Pakistan following an arduous fourth day yesterday.
Having been set a world record 491 for victory, England reached 130-3 at the close, with vice-captain Joe Root unbeaten on 59 – two runs short of 3,000 in Test cricket.
Pakistan had earlier declared on 354-6 after Younis Khan had amassed his 31st Test ton, moving 10th on the all-time list of Test centurions, and Asad Shafiq 79 as the hosts added 132 to their overnight total.
Much will rest on the shoulders of Root, who regained his spot as Test cricket’s most prolific run-scorer this year, if England are to prevent Pakistan securing an unassailable 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
“There’s no point turning up [today] if we don’t believe we can survive,” said Farbrace. “There aren’t many demons out there. It is turning but it is slow turn and it’s about application.
“It’s important for all batsmen to have a plan – like when Wahab [Riaz] comes around the wicket and then tails it away, that’s tough. But just play down the line of the stumps.”
Seamer James Anderson and spin duo Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali claimed the Pakistan wickets to fall yesterday, with Shafiq’s dismissal triggering the declaration.
Younis has now scored five centuries in nine Tests in Dubai while for the 29th time in succession the 37-year-old reached 90 and converted to three figures, equalling Australia great Donald Bradman’s record.
Moeen once again failed to convince as an opener, edging Imran Khan to Younis at second slip for just one – he has scored 48 runs in four innings since being promoted to the top of the order.
A collapse looked possible when skipper Alastair Cook, severely hampered by a back injury, swept leg-spinner Yasir Shah to Riaz at deep backward square-leg for 10.
But Bell and Root batted with authority and shared 102 before the former was caught at slip by Younis off slow left-armer Zulfiqar Babar for 46.
But questions about the 33-year-old’s Test future refuse to subside. Bell has passed 50 just three times in his last 21 innings since a century against the West Indies at Antigua in April.