Alastair Cook steadies England ship but Pakistan make breakthrough

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Football News

Alastair Cook was leading from the front as England set out to bat long and save the first Test against Pakistan at the Zayed Cricket Stadium.

Their captain reached lunch on day three with an unbeaten 78 to his name out of 122 for one in reply to Pakistan's 523 for eight declared.

The only wicket to fall was that of Moeen Ali, for a painstaking 35 from 131 balls, after Cook's latest opening partner had shared a stand of 116 at the first attempt in his new role.

The first hour of England's resumed rearguard passed without alarm as Cook reached his 50 with a steer past the slips off Wahab Riaz for his third four.

There was a little turn for Zulfiqar Babar, but not from close enough to the left-handers' off-stump to create evident danger - and both openers, Cook especially, used the sweep effectively against the slow left-armer.

It was not until Imran Khan returned to the attack that Pakistan struck, Moeen edging a good delivery that left him off the pitch and carried low to wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed.

Number three Ian Bell averaged single-figures in his and England's only previous trip to this country to face Pakistan, and briefly considered Test retirement after last summer's Ashes series victory.

He began nervously, off the mark with a thick inside-edge for a single off Imran, and Misbah-ul-Haq immediately recalled Zulfiqar to test Bell against spin as well.

Cook too played and missed, with Wahab back to find lateral movement in the air with the old ball, and still on one Bell gave a sharp chance off pad and then bat to silly point - where Shan Masood could not hold on.

But lunch came at a good time for England to regroup.

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