Cricket

Alastair Cook not finished yet after frustrating Pakistan on day three

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Alastair Cook insists his job is not yet done despite notching his 33rd international century and batting for all of day three to keep England in the first Test against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi.

Pakistan's bowlers were unable to penetrate Cook's defences during all three sessions at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium on Wednesday as the England captain guided his side to 290 for three at the close - with a heroic, unbeaten knock of 168.

England could have been even better placed for the push on Friday morning had they not lost Ian Bell (63) and Mark Wood (four) late in the day, after Moeen Ali fell for 35 in the first session, but Cook and Joe Root will resume 233 runs shy of Pakistan's mammoth effort of 523 for eight declared.

Cook's stubborn resistance and elegant strokeplay enabled him to register his 28th Test century and 33rd in all formats - which saw him surpass Kevin Pietersen as England's most prolific centurion.

England's ability to carve out a result in the first of three Tests could well hinge on how long Cook stays at the crease on Friday and he insists he and his team-mates still have plenty of work to do.

"It's (been) a good three days in one way to be 168 not out," he told Sky Sports 2.

"It's been tough physically but I'm pleased to have got through that last hour and a half when I was a little bit tired.

"It's a different style of cricket (on the sub-continent) - certainly slow, low wickets. If you can bat to your game and be patient, take the odd calculated risk in your area, you can bat for long periods of time.

"We've got the master in our dressing room with (consultant coach) Mahela (Jayawardene) who is so good at doing it and he was like, 'you can do the whole day easy'.

"It's all you've got to do - keep batting your way. It was a slow day of Test cricket and we have to bat ourselves back into the game on a wicket like this and whether it will deteriorate or not I don't know but that's the style of sub-continent cricket."

Cook was dropped by substitute fielder Fawad Alam shortly before passing 150 and a third century stand of the match - after partnerships of 116 with Moeen and 165 with Bell - would likely see the 30-year-old register his third Test double hundred and potentially a crack at bettering his high score of 294.

But Cook is not too concerned with personal milestones and was keen to pay tribute to the role Bell played in steadying England's ship.

He said: "I thought the way Ian Bell - who wasn't at his most fluent best today - gutsed out that first 60 or 70 balls when it was tough and he got his reward with a good 60.

"I'd take 295. I said that if I ever got close again (to 300) I'd try not to get caught at deep point - not that it still bugs me.

"Who knows - you can get one early on tomorrow so I've got to make sure I'm on it tomorrow. We've got to bat ourselves, get up to 500 and you never know."

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