England have given themselves a slither of hope of still claiming victory in the first Test with Pakistan after two late wickets ensured they enjoyed the marginally better day two in Dubai.
Having been bowled out for 192, the pressure was firmly on England and they are now just 3/1 to win the Test having restricted Pakistan to 288-7 at the end of the second day.
Wickets in the final two overs of play from Graeme Swann and James Anderson were pivotal and England will now feel if they can carry a deficit of no more than 120 into their second innings, they can save the Test.
One of England’s top-order batsmen will almost certainly need to score a century in the second innings to give England a chance of victory and the team could do worse than reminisce the Ashes tour of Australia just over 12 months ago.
In the opening Test of that series at the Gabba, England found themselves over 200 runs adrift of Australia after the first innings, but still secured a draw, thanks to a 188-run opening stand between Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook and then another of 329 between Cook and Jonathan Trott.
With Saeed Ajmal already taking seven wickets in the first innings and the pitch liable to greater suit his spin bowling by the day, a repeat is unlikely, but with three days still remaining England can give Pakistan a decent total to chase and scoring 400 in their second innings is not out of the question.
Pakistan will be optimistic that Ajmal can be as destructive again as he was in the first innings and he has the ability to wrestle the match from England’s grip in the matter of a few overs.
It is 8/13 in the cricket odds that Pakistan gain the series advantage, while the draw that is still possible if England bat long in their second innings is available at 7/2.