Ben Stokes had an understatedly impressive all-round Test in Abu Dhabi. He kept running in during the first two days - eventually earning four wickets - and even sent down an over of offspin. Then, he battled through a testing spell from Wahab Riaz to construct a measured half-century in his first Test innings in Asia.
But he saved his best for the final day, producing a brilliant run-out from cover to remove Mohammad Hafeez which left Pakistan at 47 for 3, and under pressure. Hafeez pushed a ball from Adil Rashid into the off side. There was hesitation as Stokes ran in from cover, picked up the ball, pirouetted and then, still off balance, threw down the stumps at the non-striker's end.
Direct hits from England are rare and this was a stunner. But Stokes has done the remarkable before. The Hafeez run-out followed his breathtaking catch at fifth slip in the fourth Ashes Test at Trent Bridge to remove Adam Voges when he flung himself to his right to catch a ball that was already behind him. Moments such as these led Trevor Bayliss to call Stokes the "leader" on the field.
"It's not just the way he does things, but his attitude in the field," Bayliss said. "He does everything at 100mph, whether he's batting or bowling. It doesn't matter whether he has batted and bowled 30 overs, he's still chasing the ball to the fence like a maniac, which is a fantastic example to set to the rest of the guys. He is certainly the leader in the field."
Neither did Bayliss - a coach who is often keen to keep a lid on emotion - try to downplay the brilliance of the run-out. "It's up there with some of the best pieces of fielding anywhere in the world," he said. "If it was a Ricky Ponting or someone who did that, everyone would be saying how good it was and this deserves the same. It was just a magic piece of fielding."
Although Stokes' intervention was a stand-out moment, England's ground fielding never wilted in the opening Test, even when they spent five sessions in the field in Pakistan's first innings. However, with the catching, it was a case of finishing better than they began after Ian Bell dropped two very costly chances - one off Mohammad Hafeez when he had 7 and another off Asad Shafiq when he had 9 - which amounted to 189 runs.
England had been put through some intense fielding sessions leading into the Test series, and Bayliss did not forecast any increased practice to try and avoid similar mistakes, instead suggesting it was more a challenge of concentration than skill.
"The guys are working pretty well from a fielding point of view," he said. "At times it's just down to concentration and that comes from within. There is not a lot you can do out on the paddock. It's about how hard the players want to push themselves, their inner strength I suppose. They've certainly got the skill. During the Ashes they pulled off some fantastic catches. It's just the game isn't it? You drop some catches sometimes and take it on the chin."
Stokes left the field after seven overs in Pakistan's second innings but emerged at No. 4 in the run chase. Bayliss brushed aside suggestions that the injury was serious and said he had "lost a bit of skin off his big toe."
Bayliss also gave a strong indication towards an unchanged side for the second Test saying that the current balance covered all bases. Before the series, it was considered unlikely that Mark Wood would be able to play all three Tests, but with the ball having reverse-swung in Sharjah during the warm-ups they may still have to consider saving him for that game. That decision may have been easier if Steven Finn had not gone home injured. The options now available are Liam Plunkett and the recalled Chris Jordan.
One factor in Jordan's favour would be his slip fielding. He has taken some great catches, especially off the spinners, in his eight-Test career. Like Stokes, he is a player capable of magic on the field.