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3rd Test: Captain Cook provides England with solid start

SHARJAH: Skipper Alastair Cook closed in on his half century as England overcame the early loss of opener Moeen Ali to reach 87 for one at lunch on the second day of the third and final test against Pakistan on Monday.

Cook was batting on 48 at the break with Ian Bell on 24 with England trailing Pakistan by 147 runs with nine wickets in hand at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

After the visitors resumed on four for no loss, Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq introduced left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar in the eighth over but it was part-time spinner Shoaib Malik who earned them the breakthrough in his first over.

Moeen went for a cross-batted slog that resulted in a top edge and slip fielder Younus Khan had all the time in the world to step back and position himself under the skier.

Bell asserted himself early, stepping out to hit Babar for a six over long-off, while Cook often employed the sweep shot to thwart the spinners.

The England captain occasionally flirted with the leg-slip fielder but a couple of edges eluding the fielders were all Pakistan, who lead the series 1-0, could manage in the 32-over session that yielded 83 runs.

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