Cook hits double ton as Pakistan-England Test heads for draw
Alastair Cook played the third longest innings in Test history on Friday, scoring a monumental 263 to help England take the lead against Pakistan in the first Test in Abu Dhabi.
The England skipper batted for 836 minutes to guide England to 569-8 at close on the fourth day, thwarting Pakistan's pace-cum-spin attack on a flat Sheikh Zayed Stadium pitch.
But even on a docile pitch Cook needed strong resolve. He came to the crease in the last hour of play on the second day under the pressure of a big total of 523-8 declared by Pakistan.
As well as the nominal hosts' bowling attack, Cook also combated hot conditions as the first of three matches in the series heads for an inevitable draw, barring an extraordinary batting collapse by Pakistan on Saturday.
He finally played a tired-looking sweep off spinner Shoaib Malik and was caught at backward square-leg by Shan Masood, ending his 528-ball knock which included 18 boundaries.
Pakistan's Hanif Mohammad holds the record for the longest Test innings (970 minutes) during his 337 against the West Indies at Bridgetown in 1958, ahead of South African Gary Kirsten's 878-minute knock during his 275 against England at Durban in 1999.
Cook added 141 for the fourth wicket with Joe Root (85) and another 91 for the sixth with Ben Stokes (57) after England resumed at 290-3.
Jonny Bairstow made just eight before becoming Wahab Riaz's third victim, trapped in front of the wicket.
Left-arm paceman Riaz was the pick of Pakistan bowlers with three wickets for 116 runs while spinner Shoaib Malik took 2-97.
It was a nightmarish pitch for the spinners. The first wicket for a slow bowler came in the 171st over when Malik bowled Stokes.
Pakistan's frontline spinner Zulfiqar Babar managed just one wicket in his 70 overs, conceding 180 runs.
At the close Adil Rashid was unbeaten on six and with him Stuart Broad has yet to score as England lead by 46 runs.
It was Cook's third Test double century that enlivened an otherwise dull day.
Cook flicked Riaz to backward square-leg for two to complete his double hundred off 395 deliveries, the second of the match behind Shoaib Malik's 245 for Pakistan.
Cook reached his 250 after tea, taking a single off Babar.
Pakistan were once again sloppy in the field as they missing another chance to dismiss Cook when wicket-keeper Sarfraz Ahmed failed to take an inside edge off Riaz when the England captain was on 173.
Cook was dropped when on 147 Thursday.
Root survived a confident leg-before shout but was finally trapped leg-before-wicket by paceman Rahat Al,i who finished with 1-73.
Stokes clobbered seven boundaries, reaching his fifth half-century and hit Babar for a four to give England the lead. He was finally bowled by Malik.
The remaining two Tests will be played in Dubai on October 22-26 and Sharjah on November 1-5.