The Third Investec Test match is building towards a compelling conclusion after England fought back superbly in front of a 23,500 capacity crowd at Edgbaston on the third day against Pakistan.
When Pakistan reached 296 for four, just one run behind with six wickets intact, they appeared destined for a position of dominance in a Test match of crucial importance with the series level at one-one.
On an excellent pitch for Test match cricket, the game is perfectly set up going into the last two days.cite=
But led by Chris Woakes (30-7-79-3) and Stuart Broad (30-4-83-3), England restricted Pakistan’s first-innings lead to 103 – useful but much less commanding than might have been.
And by the close England had already erased that without losing a wicket – on 120 with Alastair Cook, having passed 50 for the 80th time in Test cricket, on 64 (96 balls, seven fours) and Alex Hales on 50 (116 balls, nine fours). On an excellent pitch for Test match cricket, the game is perfectly set up going into the last two days.
Resuming on 257 for three, Pakistan stuck with the patient policy which had built their strong position the previous day but England broke through after half an hour when Yousuf Khan (31 from 90 balls with four fours) feathered a leg-side catch to wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow off Woakes.
A video posted by Edgbaston (@edgbaston) on Aug 5, 2016 at 6:34am PDT
Shafiq deployed the same patience but for him it didn’t pay off. Having facing 17 dot balls, the 18th missile aimed his way, by Broad, knocked out off-stump.
That left Pakistan one run behind with half their wickets intact and captain Misbah-upHaq (56, 107 balls, six fours) and Sarfraz Ahmed (46 not out, 91 balls, five fours) ensured their side at least a handy advantage with a partnership of 62 in 15 overs before the former was bowled off bat and pad by Jimmy Anderson. That supplied the great fast-bowler with some pleasure after plenty of frustration in a wholehearted spell but there was more angst around the corner. After delivering the first ball of his 30th over, Anderson received his third warning for running on the pitch and was prohibited from bowling again in the innings.
Cook was first to his half-century, from 67 balls, Hales followed to his, from 116, from the last ball of the day.cite=
Woakes and Broad pared away the innings. The former did for Yasir Shah with a fast throw and Mohammad Amir with a fast, straight delivery. Broad trapped Sohail Khan lbw and finally terminated the innings when Rahat Ali edged to second slip.
Leading by 103, Pakistan knew that early wickets would put England under real pressure but Cook and Hales offered them no chances. Cook was first to his half-century, from 67 balls, Hales followed to his, from 116, from the last ball of the day.
Classic Test matches simmer away, fluctuate and build to a brilliant denouement – this could well be one of those.