Malik and Shafiq grind England down
England 56 for 0 (Cook 39*, Moeen 15*) trail Pakistan 523 for 8 dec (Malik 245, Shafiq 107, Stokes 4-57) by 467 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Shortly after Pakistan had declared their formidable first innings of the first Test on 523 for 8, with Shoaib Malik having marked the end of his five-year Test exile with an innings of Burj Khalifa proportions, a falcon was spotted on the outfield at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, greedily disembowelling the luckless prey in its talons.
Happily for any squeamish onlookers among the smattering of fans in the vicinity, Adil Rashid quickly allayed concerns about his whereabouts by taking his place on the England dressing-room balcony. He too had displayed guts on the second day of the first Test - of the blood and gore variety, alas - as Malik's career-best 245, the majority compiled in a fifth-wicket stand of 248 with Asad Shafiq, condemned him to a cruel slice of Test history.
Rashid's debut innings figures of 34-0-163-0 were the worst by any bowler in the 138-year history of Test cricket. What is more, his efforts usurped those of another legspinner, Bryce McGain, who was tormented to the tune of 0 for 149 by South Africa's batsmen in his one and only appearance for Australia at Cape Town in March 2009.
For AB de Villiers, read Malik, whose 10-and-a-half hour masterclass marked an astonishing return for a man who might not have got a look in had Azhar Ali been fit. Shafiq alongside him chipped in with a century of his own, and though both men survived notable moments of good fortune on the first day of the contest, neither offered another sniff of an opportunity until an improbable clatter of wickets after tea, when fatigue and the impending declaration enabled England's toiling seamers to massage their stats, in particular Ben Stokes who emerged with the oddly respectable figures of 4 for 57.
The Malik-Shafiq partnership was a fifth-wicket record for Pakistan in Tests against England, beating the 197-run stand at Lord's between Javed Burki and Nasim-ul-Ghani that had stood since 1962. It continued their run of staggering batting form in Tests in Abu Dhabi, where they have never yet lost a match and where they have now recorded 11 hundreds in their last two-and-a-half Tests, dating back to the visit of Australia last October.
Pakistan are past masters of batting in the UAE, having developed an innings tempo that is perfectly suited to the brutal conditions. They were content to wear England's bowlers down for hours on end before latching on to the opportunities to make their dominance count. Between them, Malik and Shafiq struck 34 fours and four sixes, 160 runs in boundaries, a testament to their patience and ability to cash in.
Malik, in particular, batted with the insouciance of a man in utter command of the attack and the conditions, and Rashid bore the brunt of his aggression, not least when he opened his shoulders with his double-century in the bag, first to wallop him over extra cover for four before pumping his next delivery clean down the ground for the third of his four sixes.
Rashid, in truth, did not bowl especially badly, having been re-introduced to the attack in the seventh over of the day. By that stage, the seamers - armed with a ball that was just three overs old at the start of play - had been effortlessly repelled, and there was never an opportunity to get a toe-hold in the game. Rashid will cling on to the belief that his debut can be less like McGain's and more like that of a certain SK Warne, whose debut figures of 1 for 150 at Sydney in 1992 included the maiden wicket of Ravi Shastri, but not before he had made 206.
Despite having six front-line bowlers to call upon, Alastair Cook was forced reluctantly to turn to a seventh after 124 overs of fruitless toil when Joe Root was tossed the ball for an exploratory spell of allsorts, and they effectively used an eighth when Stokes entered the attack with his hitherto unseen offbreaks in the final over before the break.
That over included, England's spin attack mustered the combined figures of 70-3-302-0 and, ominously, they scarcely managed to hit the pads at any stage of the innings, let alone pass the edge.
The one man to do so, in the whole of the first two sessions, was Stuart Broad, whose optimistic leg-side appeal against Shafiq, on 66 at the time, was going so far down leg that it was almost impertinent to ask. Nevertheless, Mark Wood, with a jig of delight, seemed pleased enough that his team-mate had managed even to breach one line of Pakistan's formidable defence.
With his third ball after tea, and Pakistan already sated on 499 for 4, Wood finally breached their defences for real, as Shafiq aimed an expansive pull across the line and was trapped in front of middle and leg for 107. That breakthrough set in motion a harum-scarum 15 minutes in which three more wickets tumbled to loose prods and mows - all three to Stokes, including two lollipop catches for none other than Ian Bell, whose lapses in the slips had set Mohammad Hafeez and Shafiq on their way on day one.
And so the declaration left England needing to bat out 23 overs in the day, a task that put a particular spotlight on Moeen Ali, whose 30 wicketless overs weren't exactly the ideal way to focus his mind for the task ahead.
But to his and Cook's credit, they made it to the close with the minimum of fuss. Pakistan's seamers found as little in the conditions as England had extracted, and arguably were even less effective given their slightly erratic lines of attack.
The only real alarm came from the second ball of the innings when Cook jabbed down in the crease at Rahat Ali and all but emulated his mentor Graham Gooch in punching the ball away from his stumps as it bounced up alarmingly. Gooch, at Old Trafford in 1993, couldn't help himself; Cook managed to resist his urges and lived to fight another day.
Zulfiqar Babar, meanwhile, twirled away for seven broadly ineffective overs. There is plenty time for him to come into the game on days three, four and five, but in the absence of the prolific legspinner Yasir Shah, there was a cutting edge lacking from Pakistan's initial forays. But their weight of runs remains overwhelming.
Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. He tweets @miller_cricket