ENGLAND eked out four deserved wickets but fell foul of determined Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq on day one of the second Test in Dubai.
Mark Wood, especially, Ben Stokes and James Anderson all bowled admirably to limit the damage to 282-4 at stumps - despite Misbah’s unbeaten 102, and half-centuries too from his fellow veteran Younus Khan (56) and opener Shan Masood (54).
After losing the toss on another typically benign surface for the start of a Test in the United Arab Emirates, England did all that could be expected to stay in contention at least.
This will be another slow-burner of a contest, as was the first match of three last week, and England are likely to be up against it to stay level when they have to bat last as the surface starts to wear.
Misbah, who spoke on the eve of the match of avoiding the mishaps which almost cost Pakistan in Abu Dhabi, was true to his word in an uncompromising 192-ball stay which underpinned the recovery from 85-3.
There was precious little help for England, but disciplined bowling - Adil Rashid and, to a lesser extent, Stuart Broad were the weaker links - and fine fielding stopped Pakistan taking complete control.
The ‘old firm’ stand of 93 between Misbah and Younus began to put an emphatic stamp on proceedings.
But as with the departure of Masood, to Anderson with the first ball of the afternoon, England struck again at the start of the evening session - Wood seeing off Younus - to keep Pakistan in relative check until Misbah upped the ante again just before stumps.
Two morning catches at short-leg by Jonny Bairstow, the second a stunning one rebounding off his chest from the full face of the bat to account for Shoaib Malik off Stokes, had ensured no early consolidation either after an ominous first hour.
The new ball offered minimal assistance for Anderson or Broad, and Cook turned to the spin of Moeen Ali in just the eighth over.
Wood then replaced Anderson, and went short several times against Masood - with leg-side catchers in and out - but to no avail.
Instead, it was Mooen who struck first when Mohammad Hafeez edged a hint of turn bat-pad to end an opening partnership of 51 - and then three overs later, Shoaib was unlucky to fall to such an outstanding piece of work from Bairstow.
Masood put his two first-Test failures behind him with an attractive 81-ball half-century, including some sweet timing and placement among his seven fours and a six off Moeen over long-off.
He was to contribute to his own dismissal, though, by pushing out in defence and getting a thin edge behind.
Masood’s decision to opt for a review, without success, compounded the mistake as DRS confirmed Anderson’s 418th Test wicket - taking him up to ninth in the all-time list above Harbhajan Singh.
There was no more joy for him, or any other England bowler, before tea as Pakistan’s hugely-experienced fourth-wicket pair took over.
Younus did not always convince but had dug out a valuable 50 by the time Wood had him caught-behind down the leg-side.
It was no ‘strangle’, but a fine piece of bowling to take the glove with extra bounce and cap a particularly impressive spell.
Misbah, though, was in for the longer haul.
His patience was rewarded when he targeted Rashid before the second new ball, twice hoisting him from the crease over long-on for successive sixes among his five maximums - including another spurt of two in the final over of the day off Moeen to help him complete his century.
Asad Shafiq lent a hand in another substantial partnership, which exceeded a century thanks to Misbah’s late hitting.
But England, who endured a similarly tough first day in Abu Dhabi and did not help themselves there either by dropping catches, had more reason for satisfaction at sticking to their task this time.