Head coach Waqar Younis vowed that Pakistan would bounce back from almost losing the first Test, saying on Sunday it was unacceptable to allow underdogs England to threaten a win.
Pakistan were lucky not to go 1-0 down in the three-match series in Abu Dhabi on Saturday after they succumbed for just 173 runs in their second innings. Debutant leg-spinner Adil Rasheed triggered the collapse with 5-64 while paceman James Anderson and spinner Moeen Ali grabbed two wickets each.
That gave England a challenging 99-run target in a possible maximum of 19 overs. They fell short by 25 runs after umpires called the match off eight overs early due to bad light. The second Test starts in Dubai from Thursday with Younis defiant.
“Yes, it’s a big relief not being 0-1 down and I am confident that my side will bounce back,” said Younis. “Before the series started it was their [England] own verdict that they were underdogs but now we are the side which have to stage a comeback.”
Pakistan put up a mammoth 523-8 declared on a flat Sheikh Zayed Stadium pitch with Shoaib Malik hitting an epic 245 in his first Test in five years while Asad Shafiq scored 107 and Mohammad Hafeez chipped in with 98. But Alastair Cook played the third longest innings in history to hit 263 in 836 minutes and helped England score 598-9 declared, taking a first innings lead of 75 runs.
Younis said Pakistan missed leg-spinner Yasir Shah, who was ruled out of the first match with a back spasm but has since regained full fitness. He believes England will be buoyant, though.
“Yes, England will have their tails up. Fair enough we will get Yasir back but after their near-shocking performance they will be thinking that they can compete. Credit to England, the way they set the field and put pressure on our batsmen on the last day. That’s the right tactic as they surpassed our total in the first innings and their leg-spinner bowled well and our batsmen committed some silly mistakes.”
Younis admitted he was relieved yet disappointed. “If you look at the overall picture then yes it’s a relief. But that’s not the way to finish a Test match. I have always been proud of my Test team. We have played well as a Test team for some time now and have always put up a good fight in a constructive way.”
Pakistan beat Australia 2-0, drew 1-1 against New Zealand, beat Bangladesh 1-0 and won 2-1 in Sri Lanka in their last four series.
“In the last three years we have been performing well in the Tests but unfortunately that was missing in our game. They shouldn’t have come that close,” said Younis, who blamed poor shot selection for the batting failure. “It’s unacceptable to bat like we did in the second innings. It should have been a straightforward draw but we allowed them to threaten us and [almost] beat us. Now we would be going as the team, which needed more work. The way they [England] played we have to really pull our socks [up] in the second Test. What happened was not on and we have to really improve on that if we want to win the series.”
Younis admitted the Abu Dhabi pitch was slow, but said both sides missed chances. “Yes, in a way it [the pitch] left us disappointed but I don’t want to criticize the pitch. If you consider the chances which both the sides got, the dropped catches from both the sides, and had those been grabbed it could have been a different Test match.”