England's prospects of batting out time to save the Dubai Test rest not for the first time on the slim shoulders of Joe Root. It is no wonder he has a stiff back because he spends much of the time carrying the top order on it. England's first-innings batting in this Test should have come in yellow and black with a suitable warning: Danger, heavy load, use forklift.

England's target was 491, presumed to be unassailable, and their hopes of survival a distant dream. Root nevertheless committed himself to that end, limiting his shot selection, increasingly turning his mind to spick-and-span defence. He was unbeaten on 59 by the close of the fourth day, England three down with the runs required reduced to 361.

A thick edge against Yasir to bring up his 50 was a rare moment of vulnerability, but more apposite was the fact that no England batsman has ever made more half-centuries in a calendar year. There has been enough chat around the bat for him to gain a grounding in several Pakistani dialects if he sees this one out.

To Pakistan's disappointment, the pitch has provided few devils as yet, its gradual loss of pace not yet giving way to savage bounce and turn for the spinners, although one senses it is only a matter of time. Only in the closing overs did Yasir's threat really gather. Wahab Riaz's pace was also down a few kph on the first innings and Root was disinclined to risk the front-foot drive. When Wahab kicked the ball along the turf at a drinks break (fairly innocently, replays suggested), Root, suspecting some shady business, warned him that spikes in the ball was not an option.

Yasir was unwell enough to skip morning nets, but he looked energetic enough in his 16 overs and had the crucial wicket of Alastair Cook to his name by his second. He does not have the body shape to satisfy an England fitness assessment, but as far as spinners go he is a navvy, a navvy, too, with many tools at his disposal, even if the googly has barely been seen.

The last thing England wanted was the sight of Cook limping badly, something that was obvious to everybody, it seemed, except the medical staff who insisted he was fine. That Cook's mobility was severely compromised was obvious every time he broke into a pained trot and Yasir tempted him to sweep at a ball that turned from the rough, resulting in a catch at deep backward square by Wahab, one of three fielders stationed for that eventuality.

Moeen had already gone, falling to a shot that might have been designed to question further his fitness for a Test opener's role, a foot-fast slash at a wide one from Imran Khan which flew to second slip and left the batsman stooping in self-recrimination. Imran indulged in lots of "me, me, me" chest pointing and soon afterwards pounded with equal conviction down the middle of the pitch, a transgression which brought an official warning.

Ian Bell was in dire need of a score. England will reshuffle in Sharjah, however disinclined to do so, and Bell and Jos Buttler are most vulnerable. He acquitted himself determinedly in a gentle stand of 102 in 35 overs with Root but fell half an hour before the close. For once, Zulfiqar Babar found bounce in the surface and, as he tried to leave, the ball grazed his glove. Pakistan won the decision thanks to as DRS appeal, perhaps relieved to find that the third umpire had a zoom-in camera at his disposal when rumour was he had little more to fall back on than a monitor, an apple and a fold-up chair.

The morning belonged to Younis Khan. No Pakistan cricketer relishes their inability to play Tests in their own country, but Younis, more than anyone, has made the UAE a beneficial second home. Ten of his 31 Test hundreds have come in the Gulf states, the latest against England in Dubai as Pakistan's batsmen continued to pound them into the ground.

He fell for 118, swinging Adil Rashid lustily to leg whereupon Moeen sprinted 25 yards to hold a skied top-edge behind the bowler. It was a rare moment of pleasure for England's two spinners who had only two wickets to show for their efforts - both in the final slog - and who played second fiddle to England's hard-pressed pace attack for long periods.

By the time Pakistan declared half-an-hour into the fourth afternoon, they had added 132 runs in the day and England's requirement was already comfortably in excess of the record 418 successfully pursued by West Indies against Australia in Antigua in 2003.

Misbah, like Younis, began with a hundred in range, but for the second time in the match he did not add to his overnight score. Perhaps he is not someone who leans happily into a bright, new day. He was already the oldest player to score two centuries in a Test but he was not about to enhance his own record. Anderson slipped in a slower ball and he slotted it straight to his rival captain, Cook, at mid-off.

England's pace bowlers were a bit moody. On a slowing, wearing, fourth-day pitch where they might have hoped the spinners would be all over Pakistan, they were still doing their stuff. Anderson had a tiny collision with Asad Shafiq and Stokes, his mood not helped by a tweaked ankle, was all Marmite temper, his savoury mood congealing over another blazing day. Appropriately so, as England were toast.

By the time he reached the 90s, Younis was settled enough to toy with the bowlers, goading Stuart Broad by changing his position at the crease. Splay-legged and square on, he worked Broad through square leg to 98 then cut Rashid to reach his century in the next over.

Misbah, sat regally on the dressing room balcony behind a pedestal fan, seemed inclined to let Shafiq try for a century, too. A glove-carrier came out presumably with a message to tell him how much time he had but he was still 21 runs short when Moeen had him lbw, a review failing to save him. Misbah stretched, slowly rose to his feet to prepare for the work ahead, and called them in.

Courtesy ESPN CricInfo