Dubai: Pakistan took complete control of the second test against England on Saturday, finishing the third day on 222-3 and a 358-run lead at Dubai International Stadium.
A fourth-wicket stand of 139 runs between Younis Khan and captain Misbah-ul Haq - the two most experienced players in the Pakistan team - consolidated the position after England picked up the first three wickets for 83 runs.
Misbah-ul-Haq celebrates his half-century.
England will be chasing history - it's best fourth innings successful chase of all time is 332 to beat Australia in Melbourne in December 1928.
Younis Khan reached his 31st test fifty and was unbeaten on 71, while Misbah, who scored 102 runs in the first innings, hammered four sixes to reach 87 not out at stumps.
Pakistan had after taken a 136-run lead in the first innings, when it bowled out England for 242 in the pre-lunch session, with Joe Root top-scoring on 88.
Wahab Riaz in action during the match.
Pakistan dominated the day completely, with paceman Wahab Riaz and leg-spinner Yasir Shah taking four wickets each as they took the remaining seven England first innings batsmen for the addition of just 60 runs in 24.2 overs in the morning session.
In reply, Mohammed Hafeez struck a quick 51 after Pakistan lost two quick wickets. "Joe Root was the crucial wicket for us in the morning. He is a very good player and he is a very aggressive player. We thought that if we could get him early, we would be able to dry up the runs and put pressure on them, which is exactly what happened," Riaz said.
Looking ahead to the fourth day, he added: "We would like to score a few more runs and then put England in to bat."
Root gave a frank assessment of his team's performance. "We were not good enough to be brutally honest. So, we have got to pitch up tomorrow and put up a better performance,” he said.
"Fair play to Pakistan. They bowled very consistently and put us under a lot of pressure. They got the ball to reverse, the leg-spinner had good control, but to be honest, there were a few shots in our dismissals that we'd want to have a re-think."
The worrying part for England was the complete ineffectiveness of its spin bowlers despite the turn in the pitch. Adil Rashid did not hold any fear, with Misbah reaching his fifty against him with two massive sixes, and neither did Moeen Ali. In fact, captain Alastair Cook had to resort to Root's off-spin, but that also did not make any difference.
During the course of his innings, Younis became the first Pakistan batsman to cross 9,000 runs in test cricket when he reached 47.
Wicket-keeper Jos Buttler dropped Shan Masood (1) off Stuart Broad in the second over of the innings, but was up to the task when James Anderson induced an edge in the next over. It was the fourth time in four innings that Masood fell to Anderson.
Shoaib Malik (7) was softened up by short-pitched deliveries by Anderson and Broad, and when Mark Wood came to bowl his first over, the batsman's aggressive intent did not pay off and he chopped on a fuller delivery on to his stumps. (Photos: AP)
Pakistan was 16-2 at that stage before Hafeez and Younis added 67 runs for the third wicket.
Hafeez was looking good and reached his 50 in just 75 balls with a pull off Wood. However, he departed one ball later, going for an ambitious drive through the off side to a delivery that was pitched up and moved slightly. The resulting edge was caught by Root in the slips.
Earlier, it was a sensational spell of fast bowling by Riaz and equally good support from Shah as England was bowled out for 242 runs.
Riaz, bowling unchanged for the first 85 minutes, sent down nine overs under hot and taxing conditions. He probed the batsmen with an exacting line and length, picking up three wickets for 15 runs.
Root, unbeaten overnight on 76, smashed three boundaries early to quickly move to 88. At the other end, Jonny Bairstow was dropped by wicket-keeper Sarfraz Ahmed - a tough chance in Shah's third over of the day. But two balls later, Sarfraz made amends when Root nicked an away angled delivery from Riaz.
At 210-4, Younis seemed to have taken a sharp catch at first slip to dismiss Bairstow off Shah, but it was ruled not out by third umpire Chris Gaffaney.
Riaz got into the act again in the very next over again, forcing new batsman Ben Stokes to edge to Sarfraz for four, and then got rid of Buttler in similar fashion for a duck.
The tail did not last long and once Shah finally got the wicket he deserved - that of Bairstow when the Yorkshireman was trapped leg before for 46.
Shah, who bowled unchanged throughout the pre-lunch session, took four for 93 – a good comeback after the back injury that prevented him from playing the first Test match in Abu Dhabi. Riaz finished with figures of four for 66.
Pakistan has won both the Test matches it has played against England in Dubai. The third and final Test will be played in Sharjah from November 1....