AFP/Birmingham, United Kingdom
England captain Alastair Cook and Alex Hales’s first century stand as an opening pair left the third Test against Pakistan at Edgbaston intriguingly poised come the close of yesterday’s third day’s play.
At stumps, England were 120 without loss in their second innings, a lead of 17 runs. Cook was batting on 64 with Hales (50 not out), with two days left in the match. It was the first time in 18 innings as a Test opening pair the duo had posted a century partnership.
England were 103 runs behind on first innings after more than 10 hours in the field. Yet Hales was soon into his stride with a cover-driven four off left-arm quick Mohamed Amir.
Meanwhile, Cook took advantage of width from Sohail Khan with two square-cut boundaries in three balls. Cook completed a brisk fifty in 67 balls when Rahat Ali’s misfield at mid-on saw a drive by the left-hander go for his fifth four of the innings.
Hales took England into the lead with an elegant back-foot forcing shot through the covers off Sohail, who had marked his return to Test cricket by taking five for 96 in the hosts’ first innings. And the last delivery of the day saw Hales complete a 116-ball fifty with a single off the tiring Sohail.
Earlier, Pakistan were bowled out for 400 in reply to England’s first innings 297 on the stroke of tea. After Azhar Ali, whose 139 was his first Test century outside of Asia, and recalled 20-year-old opener Sami Aslam (82) put on 181 for the second wicket on Thursday, Pakistan saw skipper Misbah-ul-Haq (56) and wicket-keeper Sarfraz Ahmed (46 not out) frustrate England yesterday.
Chris Woakes, in the all-rounder’s first Test match on his Warwickshire home ground, led England’s attack with three for 79, while fellow paceman Stuart Broad took three for 83.
Pakistan resumed on 257 for three after Azhar had been dismissed off the last ball of Thursday’s play. Younis Khan (21 not out) was joined in the middle by fellow veteran Misbah.
Woakes, who had dismissed Azhar, struck again when he had Younis caught behind for 31 glancing down the leg-side. It took the patient Misbah 40 balls to score his first boundary yesterday. But he broke the drought with two boundaries in three balls off Broad, courtesy of a pair of well-struck drives, one through the covers and the other down the ground.
Broad though found his range when a full-length delivery smashed into Asad Shafiq’s off stump for an 18-ball nought to leave Pakistan 296 for five, still one run behind. Misbah’s single to third man off Broad saw Pakistan into the lead.
Pakistan’s batsmen have found Moeen Ali to their liking this series and Misbah reverse-swept him for four when the off-spinner came on before lunch. Wicket-keeper Ahmed followed up with two swept fours in as many balls off Ali, whose 17 wicketless overs cost 79 runs.
At lunch, Pakistan were 336 for five, a lead of 39 runs. Misbah was 44 not out and Ahmed a typically brisk 20 not out off 27 balls.
After lunch Misbah — who scored a century during Pakistan’s 75-run win in the first Test at Lord’s — posted his third fifty this series when he drove James Anderson for a sixth four in 93 balls. But on 56 he was bowled by Anderson, England’s all-time leading Test wicket-taker, to end a stand of 62 with Ahmed.
The first ball of Anderson’s 30th over saw him barred from bowling in the rest of the innings after he received a third warning from West Indian umpire Joel Wilson for running on the pitch, having been given two such cautions by Australia’s Bruce Oxenford on Thursday.
Pakistan were then 368 for eight. After Pakistan’s tenth-wicket pair had extended the lead beyond 100, last man Rahat nicked Broad to Joe Root in the slips.
England (1st innings) 297
Pakistan (1st innings, overnight 257-3)
Md Hafeez c Ballance b Anderson 0
Sami Aslam (run out) 82
Azhar Ali c Cook b Woakes 139
Younis Khan c Bairstow b Woakes 31
Misbah-ul-Haq b Anderson 56
Asad Shafiq b Broad 0
Sarfraz Ahmed (not out) 46
Yasir Shah (run out) 7
Md Amir lbw Woakes 1
Sohail Khan lbw Broad 7
Rahat Ali c Root b Broad 4
Extras (b5, lb21, nb1) 27
Total (all out, 136 overs) 400
Fall of wickets: 1-0, 2-181, 3-257, 4-274, 5-296, 6-358, 7-367, 8-368, 9-386, 10-400
Bowling: Anderson 29.1-7-54-2; Broad 30-4-83-3 (1nb); Finn 27.5-7-76-0; Woakes 30-7-79-3; Ali 17-2-79-0; Vince 1-0-2-0; Root 1-0-1-0
England (2nd innings)
A Cook (batting) 64
A Hales (batting) 50
Extras (lb4, nb2) 6
Total (no wkt, 35 overs) 120
Bowling: Amir 11-2-28-0; Sohail 8-0-40-0 (2nb); Rahat 5-0-20-0; Shah 11-1-28-0
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