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England strike late on day three to keep their hopes alive to snatch the test match at Pindi

Captain Babar Azam (136), Imam-ul-Haq (121) and Abdullah Shafique (114) all hit tons on a run-friendly wicket. England struck with four late wickets to revive its hopes of victory.

England's Ollie Robinson, celebrates with teammates after taking the wicket of Pakistan's Saud Shakeel (AP)

England struck with four late wickets on Saturday to revive its hopes of victory against Pakistan with two days left in the first cricket test where seven batters have so far scored centuries.

Pakistan reached 499-7 in its first innings on the lifeless wicket and still trailed by 158 runs at stumps on the third day with play again ending early because of fading light.

Captain Babar Azam (136), Imam-ul-Haq (121) and Abdullah Shafique (114) all hit tons on a run-friendly wicket which even Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ramiz Raja feels is not a great advert for test cricket.

But England hit back after tea when Ollie Robinson broke the 123-run stand between Babar and debutant Saud Shakeel (37). Robinson found the outside edge of Shakeel’s bat and Babar, who hit 19 fours and a six in his eighth hundred, played a cut against offspinner Will Jacks (3-132).

“That wicket (of Babar) was almost the game-changing moment,” Jacks said after bowling 33 overs in the innings so far. “It was a great day for us… and as the match goes on, the pitch will get more turn. There is so much time left in the game (to win).”

Veteran James Anderson (1-47) used all his 175-test experience on an unresponsive wicket for the bowlers, before finally he got his first wicket in his 19th over when Mohammad Rizwan (29) was caught at short mid-wicket.

Babar and Shakeel denied England success in the middle session and guided Pakistan to 411-3 by tea with the Pakistan skipper dominating both spin and pace.


Babar was the seventh batter in three days to notch a hundred in England’s first test in Pakistan in 17 years after the visitors had posted 657 all out on the back of hundreds from England openers Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett, Harry Brook and Ollie Pope.

“We still have six sessions and if they get a lead then pressure will be on us,” Imam said. “We have faced such situations before… the ball has started keeping slightly low and (the pitch) will definitely change on the last two days.”

Babar used his feet well against the spinners and raised his half century off 68 balls when he lifted Jack Leach (2-160) over wide mid-on for a six after lunch.


He reached his hundred off 126 balls when he thumped a backfoot cover-driven boundary.

Earlier, Imam and Shafique struck centuries after Pakistan resumed on 181-0 before throwing away their wickets.

Azhar Ali (27) got a life when Crawley couldn’t grasp a difficult chance at leg slip against Anderson before he was trapped leg before wicket by Leach after England took the second new ball immediately after 80 overs.

Left-handed Imam, who made centuries in each innings during the drawn test against Australia in March at the same venue, scored 121 off 207 balls. Shafique, a centurion in the same test against Australia, hit a more conventional 114 off 203 balls.

It was the first time in test history that openers from both teams had scored centuries in the first innings.


Only 14 wickets fell over five days on a similar type of pitch when Australia last played at the Pindi Cricket Stadium and the wicket was rated as “below average” by ICC match referee Ranjan Madugalle. The pitch received one demerit point as a result.

Shafique completed his 100 off 177 balls with a single after lofting Joe Root for a six on the legside before Imam also reached the milestone with a flicked boundary off Root.

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With the wicket doing little for the England spinners, Imam threw away his wicket by unnecessarily going for a big shot against Leach and holed out at long on. Leach then trapped Azhar lbw on the back foot at the stroke of lunch.

First published on: 03-12-2022 at 19:08 IST
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