IT has been a long road from the valleys to the desert, but Monty Panesar kept the faith and claimed just reward with his 40th Test cap for England yesterday.
There was a wicket too, albeit at the second time of asking, in 33 overs of toil for the 29-year-old on day one of the second Test at the Zayed Stadium.
Panesar could not stop Pakistan reaching 256 for seven by stumps - Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann did most of the damage with the ball, sharing the other six wickets between them.
But had James Anderson clung on to a sharp catch at slip off the slow left-armer, Misbah-ul-Haq’s unbeaten 83 would have been a mere 30.
That miss, the most costly of four by England, encapsulated a day which might have been so much better for the tourists as they seek to battle back in this second match of three after their hammering in Dubai last week.
But none of that context could detract from what it all meant to Panesar, back in the Test fold for the first time since July 2009 - when he played such a heroic role with bat rather than ball to salvage a hugely-significant last-ditch Ashes draw in Cardiff.
On a pitch which favoured spin over seam as expected here, they called on him again - and Panesar was delighted, if a little tense, after learning of his involvement just a few minutes before the toss.
“I only found out this morning. I was really excited, and the nervous energy started to build up,” he said. “I was a little bit nervous, making my second debut after being out of the team for such a long time. “I just kept on going and waited for an opportunity.”