England rewarded for perseverance as late Pakistan wickets offer hope of victory
England were rewarded for their unorthodox attacking fielding approach with four wickets in the final session as Pakistan slid to 499 for seven at the end of day three in Rawalpindi.
The tourists were made to toil in the field throughout the afternoon with little reward, but persevered with their approach and claimed four scalps in the setting sun on the docile track to lead by 158 runs.
Despite having scored a masterful century before tea, Babar Azam’s innings came to an end when he cut Will Jacks straight to point, and departed to a standing ovation.
It was the first sign of any spin in the track, and gave life to the rest of the England bowling attack, as Pakistan lost four wickets for just 88 runs in the final session.
It was the first chance offered up by Babar, who played elegantly for his 136 from 168 deliveries and did not rise to England’s aggressive fielding and body language, but remained calm and composed at the crease.
Jacks finished the day as the most prolific of the England bowlers, with three wickets for 132 from 32 overs.
Naseem Shah was the final wicket to fall in the day, hitting a catch to deep midwicket, but Jack Leach had a lot of ground to make up before taking a good catch.
Before Jacks’ late two wickets, Mohammad Rizwan drove the ball straight to Ben Stokes at short midwicket to give James Anderson his first ever wicket in Pakistan.
In the first over after tea, Ollie Robinson caught the edge of Saud Shakeel’s bat on the way through to the wicketkeeper, which had set the tone for the rest of the session.
Earlier in the day, Pakistan had almost been in complete control, with Babar becoming the seventh player to score a century in the match, and successfully building on the hosts’ overnight total of 181 without loss.
Stokes remained without one of his bowling options during the day, after Liam Livingstone continued to remain unable to take the field with a right knee issue that saw him replaced by substitute Keaton Jennings on Friday.
England had made inroads before lunch, with the spinners taking three wickets, after both openers – Abdullah Shafique and Imam-ul-Haq – brought up their centuries, with the Test becoming the first in history where both opening stands have been over 200, and all four departed having scored tons.
Jacks had only been brought into the side on the morning of the match when Ben Foakes was unwell with a viral infection which swept through the touring party, but in the absence of Livingstone had to step up as a bowler and proved a useful option for Stokes.
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