Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates: Captain Alastair Cook kept England in the game with an unbeaten century Thursday, although Pakistan fought back with two late wickets on the third day of the first test.
Pakistan fast bowler Wahab Riaz removed Ian Bell and night-watchman Mark Wood, but England reached 290-3 at close of play thanks to Cook's gritty knock of 168 not out at Sheikh Zayed Stadium.
Cook scored his 28th test hundred and he and Ian Bell put on 165 runs for the second wicket - England's all-time highest in the UAE. Joe Root was giving him company at stumps, not out on three.
"I think he has shown that he can bat for days in these parts of the world," Bell said of Cook. "He is ready to go in tomorrow and carry on from where he left. The thing with Cookie is that he is so organized, his defense is so good and his shot selection against the spinners was excellent."
Bell finally departed five overs before close of play for a streaky 63, cutting a Riaz delivery into the hands of Mohammed Hafeez at point. One over later, Riaz got rid of Wood, who fended a rising delivery into his wicket.
But it was a battling knock under the hot sun by Cook, although he was dropped by Fawad Alam on 147 when attempting to sweep left-arm orthodox spinner Zulfiqar Babar.
Cook played aggressive cricket in the pre-lunch session when he was unbeaten on 78 and played several shots, including stepping out against Babar and sweeping him repeatedly, but was more circumspect in the next two sessions as the Abu Dhabi pitch started showing some effects of wear and tear.
He did reach his century with a boundary, though, a cracking shot through the cover area off Wahab Riaz.
Khan troubled him early in his second spell of the day midway through the first session, but was rewarded with the wicket of Moeen instead, when he nudged at an away going delivery and edged it to wicket-keeper Sarfaraz Ahmed.
Moeen had made a cautious 35, eschewing all risk and hitting just two boundaries in his 131-ball stay before his indiscretion against Imran. He and Cook put together 116 runs for the first wicket.
"I think Cook batted beautifully, and we have seen him do this often in the sub continent," Pakistan bowling coach Mushtaq Ahmed said. "He has the ability to kill the little bit zip that the seamers and spinners were getting out there. The way he played, he also took the pressure off other batsmen."
Bell, who had to take much of the blame for Pakistan reaching their big first inning total after dropping simple chances of Hafeez and Asad Shafiq, redeemed himself with the bat.
It wasn't the most assured knock from the England No. 3, who lived dangerously for the early part of his inning and was even dropped when on one. But as the day wore on, he looked more at ease in the middle.
Bell reached his 50 with a pulled boundary of Rahat Ali, but while attempting a similar shot against Riaz on 56, he appeared to have gloved it to wicket-keeper Sarfraz. Pakistan reviewed the umpire's decision, which was upheld.
England still trails Pakistan's first inning total of 523 for eight declared by 233 runs.