Mohammad Hafeez ended day three just three short of a solid hundred, as Pakistan fought back in the Sharjah Test. But, Pakistan’s advantage was cut short by England late in the day as they lost three important wickets. They ended day three at 146 for 3, this was having erased the first-innings deficit of 72 with all their 10 wickets in hand, but lost three wickets in the final hour of the day, ending with a lead of 74. This was after a career-best spell of 4 for 33 from Shoaib Malik, who was to announce a shock Test retirement later in the day, held England to 306.
Having kept England’s lead down to under 100, Pakistan began their second innings in confident fashion. James Anderson and Stuart Broad kept things tight again, but the introduction of spin gave Pakistan’s openers breathing space. Hafeez charged down the pitch and hit Samit Patel over long-off in the 10th over. Azhar was more lucky during his stay at the crease. He survived a close lbw appeal against Patel, and then was almost stumped as he lazily lifted his foot after leaving one from Rashid.
Mixing caution and aggression in the right measure, Pakistan crossed 100 without trouble. However, the stand was broken immediately after. Azhar, who failed to hit a single boundary in his 34, was run out after taking off for a single to mid-off, then having second thoughts, and then running again. Eventually, he found himself short of the crease, even as the fielder missed the stumps at first attempt. Anderson then trapped Malik lbw first ball as Pakistan’s grip loosened on the match. The bigger blow was the dismissal of Younis Khan, who fell lbw to Broad. Younis offered no shot to an incoming delivery, and was a dead duck.
Earlier in the day, England gave away a significant portion of the advantage they had gained on day two as 224 for 4 became 306 all out. The last four wickets for England could add only 21 runs as Malik ran through the tail with ease. He broke Adil Rashid’s stubborn resistance, who hung around for an hour for his 8, and then clean bowled both Anderson and Ben Stokes, the latter showing the courage to bat in spite of his collar bone injury, which has prevented him from bowling in the match. England would be disappointed with the end though.
They should be equally upset the way the innings began. James Taylor added only two runs to his overnight score when he tried to force his way against Rahat Ali, and found the edge through to the keeper. Jonny Bairstow was then undone by a Zulfiqar Babar arm ball. Patel kept England’s innings afloat, cracking boundaries off Rahat. His 42, which came at a decent pace, ensured that England had what could still prove to be a significant lead. He fell to the guile of Yasir Shah, but did enough to kept England ahead in first innings comparison.
--By A Cricket Correspondent