England hope hard graft has given them a shot at redemption in the final throes of their hugely disappointing Test series against Pakistan.
It took England almost nine hours to shift the limpet-like Azhar Ali (157), who was eventually ninth out in Pakistan’s second innings of 365, in which the last seven wickets fell for just 34 runs.
But after Azhar and Younus Khan (127) had shut them out for more than 80 overs in a stand of 216, England must still make the second-highest fourth-innings chase in their history to claw back a 2-1 series defeat over the last two days at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
There was nonetheless a spring in the step of Graeme Swann after he and Monty Panesar (five for 124) ensured a target of 324 which openers Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss had reduced by 36 at the close.
Heroics will be needed today from batsmen who have produced no such thing in a series of collapses to date, most embarrassingly when being bowled out for just 72 after being set 145 to win in Abu Dhabi and level the series last week.
However, Swann dares to believe that the world number ones’ slumbering batsmen may be about to reawaken at last in the Middle East.
“You can easily get really down on yourselves and start feeling sorry for yourselves,” said Swann, reflecting on Pakistan’s mid-afternoon score of 331 for three.
“But we didn’t do that and made sure we kept fighting because, let’s face it, chasing 500 is nigh-on impossible, but 320 is gettable.
“We have to salvage something from this series. It looked for a long time today as if we wouldn’t have the chance to do that. But it was a great end to the day.”