Joe Root is closing in on a ninth Test century, capping a terrific second day of the second Test in Dubai for England today, finishing 182 for 3, trailing Pakistan by 196 runs.
Mark Wood took 3-39 as England dominated the morning session, dismissing Pakistan for 378 before lunch, Misbah-ul-Haq (102) falling to the fifth ball of the morning without adding to his overnight total.
Root (76 not out) shared a 113-run partnership with Alastair Cook (65) for the third wicket, helping England recover from being precariously placed at 14 for 2, after Moeen Ali and Ian Bell fell for single-figure scores.
After Cook became leg-spinner Yasir Shah’s first wicket, Root put on another fifty partnership with Yorkshire team-mate Bairstow (27 not out) with both unbeaten at the close of play.
Starting the day on 282-4, Pakistan will be disappointed with their first innings total, as six wickets fell for 96 runs in the first session, with captain Misbah the first, lbw to Stuart Broad (1-48).
Asad Shafiq (83) passed fifty and put on 52 for the sixth wicket with Sarfraz Ahmed (32) as England again struggled for inspiration on a lifeless surface.
It came, though, in the form of Moeen (3-108) as the off-spinner dismissed Sarfraz, and Wahab Riaz cheaply, both to mistimed hoicks to mid-on.
Adil Rashid (1-84) picked up his first wicket in the innings, that of fellow leg-spinner Yasir Shah (16) –– caught by Ben Stokes at slip –– before Wood sealed a magnificent spell of reverse-swing bowling with the wickets of Zulfiqar Babar and Shafiq.
Wood made Zulfiqar look foolish when trapping him lbw, with the tail-ender ducking expecting the bouncer, while the wicket of Shafiq came three balls after the Durham pacer inflicted a painful blow to the batsman’s knee.
England’s effort with the bat didn’t start too brightly, with Moeen doing his hopes of securing the openers berth for the series in South Africa later this winter no favours by fending Wahab (1-51) to short-leg in the second over. Similarly, Bell won’t have silenced his doubters, edging Imran Khan (1-26) behind for four.
But as out of form as the Warwickshire man is, England’s captain Cook is in superb touch and demonstrated that once again with his 45th Test fifty, though he did have a lucky escape on 27 when a ball from Zulfiqar rolled onto his stumps but didn’t dislodge the bails.
Joe Root –– also in great nick –– negotiated a particularly testing spell of short-pitched bowling by Wahab, seeing England safely to tea with his skipper.
While Cook fell to Yasir (1-59) in the final session, Root and Bairstow safely saw England to the stumps without any further damage.