England brace for bad news after Stokes injury
England are likely to have to try and push for a series-levelling victory in Sharjah with 10 players, and just two front-line seam bowlers, after Ben Stokes sustained a shoulder injury diving for a catch on the opening day of the third Test. He will go for a scan on Monday morning to determine the extent of the damage, but his chances of playing any further part in the match appear slim.
Stokes, fielding at short fine leg, dived full-length to his left in a bid to intercept a sweep by Sarfraz Ahmed off Samit Patel. As he thudded to the ground he jarred the point of his right shoulder and his pain was immediately clear.
He was attended to for a few minutes in the middle by the England physio and doctor before walking off using his shirt as a temporary sling. He then received further ice treatment in the dressing room. There was no confirmation of whether the shoulder had popped out of its joint; a dislocation for a fast bowler can have significant long-term consequences given the strain they put on their bowling arms.
Stuart Broad, speaking about the incident at the close of play, said that Stokes is not the sort of character to show much pain unless he is really hurting.
"We all walked in straightaway to try to find him," said Broad. "He's a tough guy. So generally when he shows pain, he's going to be sore. It was an amazing effort to try to take the catch. The outfield is very soft, so he landed a bit awkwardly on it.
"I don't know whether it popped out ... but he's having a scan tomorrow, so it's hard to speculate what it is. But he's obviously a bit down. We hope he can play a bit more of a part in this Test match, because he's obviously a vital cog in our machine. But we also do have cover with bat and ball, a lot of options, if he can't."
After this series, Stokes is not due to play cricket again until the tour of South Africa in mid-December although if the injury is found to be serious his participation at the start of that trip could be in doubt. In a six-month period since returning to the team after the World Cup, he has played for England in all three formats and had been due a rest during the one-day and T20 legs of the UAE tour.
He was singled out last week by the coach, Trevor Bayliss, as one of the young England players who has made strides on this tour, even though his numbers do not reflect it. He has scored 76 runs at 19.00 - with 57 of those coming in the first innings in Abu Dhabi - and taken five wickets at 39.60, with four of those in Pakistan's first innings of the first Test.
"He is a guy who likes to play positive, aggressive cricket," Bayliss said. "On this tour, as a bowler, he has had to bowl a boring line and length and his batting, he has had to get himself in and try to graft out an innings, and to me it looks like he is trying to do that and he has been quite successful in it. I think the experience of playing this opposition on these pitches will be beneficial for him."
Samit Patel also needed treatment on the opening day, his first in Test cricket since England's victory at Kolkata on the 2012-13 of India. While diving in his followthrough to field the second delivery of his spell, he briefly dislocated the little finger on his left hand. However, the finger had gone back into place before the physio made it to the middle and he was able to resume with some strapping in place.
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo