PAK vs ENG: Alastair Cook hits 263 as England moves toward draw against Pakistan
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates: A marathon knock of 263 by Alastair Cook gave England the lead Friday as the first test against Pakistan headed toward a draw at the end of the fourth day.
Cook became only the third batsman in history to bat for more than 800 minutes in an innings with his 528-ball knock that lasted 836 minutes. The two players who have played longer than him are Pakistan's Hanif Mohammed (970 minutes against the West Indies in Bridgetown in 1958) and South Africa's Gary Kirsten (878 minutes against England in Durban in 1999).
At the close of play, and England was 569-8, 46 ahead of Pakistan's first-innings total of 523-8 declared.
"Our captain had led from the front there and set an example for the rest of the series," England batsman Joe Root said. "It gives some sort of a hope that we can go there and get some sort of a result."
It was Cook's third double century in test cricket, and his second highest after the 294 he made against India in Birmingham in 2011. He survived two chances - one on 147 on Thursday and then on 173 in the fourth over Friday morning when a delivery from Wahab Riaz delivery cut back and took his inside edge, but wicket-keeper Sarfraz Ahmed dropped a difficult chance diving low to his right.
Cook fell in the 191st over of the innings, top-edging a sweep off Shoaib Malik to Shan Masood at backward square leg. He hit only 18 boundaries, which meant he ran 191 runs in the extremely hot conditions.
Wickets fell in a flurry toward the end, with Ben Stoke (57) and Jos Buttler (23) also falling along with Cook.
A spinner finally got a wicket when Malik dismissed Stoke, who was bowled while trying to give the bowler a charge. Buttler's wicket was taken by Zulfiqar Babar in his 69th over of the inning.
England lost two wickets in the session after lunch - Root departing 15 runs short of a well-deserved century and Jonny Bairstow for eight.
Riaz (3-116) was Pakistan's most successful bowler, and his spell included one late in the second session when he also accounted for Bairstow and troubled Stokes no end with his reverse swing.
"The ball was reversing both ways and I was in my rhythm. I took full advantage of it and I was trying to get the batsman out all the time, even Ben Stokes, who was quite lucky I thought," Riaz said. "Obviously, the wicket is slow, but we are doing our best to get the wickets."
The visitors did not lose a wicket in the 2 1/2-hour pre-lunch session - to cater for a one-hour lunch break for Friday prayers - and added 110 runs in the 33 overs. However, it was slow going in the second session with 26 overs yielding 68 runs.
Cook and Root put on 141 runs for the fourth wicket, the third century partnership of the inning.
Cook reached his 200 in 395 balls when he whipped Riaz to the square leg for a couple.
England needed 11 overs to get their first boundary of the day, but once Cook swept Babar for four, both batsman started to open up a bit, with Root hitting drives and pulling shots in making his 14th test fifty in 83 balls. His 85 featured seven hits to the fence, including an upper cut off a bouncer from Riaz.
Pakistan has played seven test matches at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, winning four, including the last two by massive margins against Australia (356 runs) and New Zealand (248 runs), and drawing the other three. It won the only test match at the stadium against England by 72 runs in 2012.