In four days England have rewritten the rulebook on how to play in Pakistan and even if they fail to pull off a famous win they deserve praise, not criticism.
You win in Pakistan by playing the long game, hanging in and nicking a chance like England did in 2000. “Patience is the key,” advised Alastair Cook last week. Not any more. Ben Stokes has no interest in the game’s history or tradition. He lives life in the moment and it is hard to think of a more daring, or reckless, personality that has captained England before.
His stamp on this team is universal. They batted at 6.7 runs an over across their two innings, Harry Brook twice threatened to set a new record as England’s fastest century maker, Joe Root, of all people, felt so emboldened on Sunday he batted left-handed and Stokes turned more than a century of convention on its head by bowling bouncers with the new ball, all the more remarkable when the greatest pitch it up seamer in England’s history was on the field.
James Anderson just watched at mid off as Ollie Robinson took one wicket, broke Azhar Ali’s finger, forcing him to retire, before Stokes landed the big one, Babar Azam backing away and inside edging a catch behind. The bouncer tactic, employed to rough up the ball and accelerate reverse swing, worked like a dream.
When the sun dipped below the rooftops next to the Pindi Stadium and the players went off, Pakistan were 80 for two with the damage to Azhar unknown, 263 short of their gettable target. Imam Ul Haq and Saud Shakeel have put the game in the balance with a lively 55 run stand. This is not over yet. Both teams fancy it. It is going to be a cracker of a final day.
England need eight wickets for only their third ever Test win in Pakistan and seventh out of eight under Stokes and Brendon McCullum as their tactics ensured the match accelerated on day four. Twelve wickets fell on Sunday, mostly down to England’s attacking intent with ball and bat.
Will Jacks’s six wickets in the first innings, eye-rubbingly remarkable when you think he had not taken a first-class wicket until last year, helped wrap up Pakistan first innings with England taking a 149 lead.
We knew what was coming next but it was still a thrilling ride. Normally the third innings declaration set up is the most predictable, and boring aspect of Test cricket. But not this time. England rattled through to 264 for seven in 35.5 overs, declaring at tea and dangling a nice little tempter in the eyes of the Pakistan side.
A target of 343 in four sessions and a theoretical 130 overs (more likely around 110 given bad light) at an approximate 3.5 an over on a flat pitch doing very little took the draw out of the equation. Bat through and Pakistan win. They are going at 4.4 already. Remember, England have not drawn under Stokes, and Root said at the end of play on Saturday they would rather lose chasing a win than shut up shop. They stayed true to their word.
Pakistan chased 344 to win in Sri Lanka just two Test matches ago, their target here would require the slowest paced innings of the match. There is one unquantifiable factor – pressure.
Will they back off? Ramiz Raja, the chairman of the PCB, summed up life in the furnace of Pakistan cricket the other day when he said there are “220 million people” in Pakistan and “220 million of them think they can do my job better.” Now imagine how the players feel. After scoring 579 in their first innings, to lose would be shameful.
England have dictated terms from the first over on Thursday which Zak Crawley whacked for 14 runs. England’s first task on Sunday was finishing off Pakistan’s tail which took longer than expected as they added 80 for three. Jacks took all the wickets to fall, Ollie Pope grabbed the first stumping of his professional career to complete the five fer. Jacks took one more and became the first spinner to take five wickets or more in his first innings for England since Peter Such in 1993 – five years before Jacks was born. His confidence will be flying.
Ben Duckett made a hundred in the first innings, a golden duck in the second when he guided a catch to slip in the first over. Pope, tired after 155 overs of keeping, holed out for 15 before lunch but Crawley eased to a cavalier fifty while Root wanted to make up for missing out in the first innings.
Cralwey was strangled down the leg side, but Root opened up, easing to a half century without you barely noticing. It was then he decided to be cheeky. He shadow batted left-handed at the non-striker’s end before adopting it to leggie Zehid Mahmood. It so surprised Pakistan they did not bother to change the field. It was almost a disaster, his second ball sweep shot was dropped at square leg (or was it point?). He gave it up and reverted to orthodoxy after that and was soon out for 73 off 69.
It left the stage for Brook. He hits the ball so hard, just like his hero AB De Villiers, who he would try to copy as kid at Burley in Wharfedale Cricket Club playing with his grandad.
He smashed three sixes, one of them took Zehid’s match figures beyond 300, only the second bowler ever to be battered so hard on debut, and was threatening Gilbert Jessop’s 120 year record for the fastest England hundred that he missed by only five balls in the first innings. On 87 off 64 he had plenty of time but was bowled middle stump. Jessop’s record lives another day but this team will surely break it soon.
Stokes declared at tea, the gauntlet thrown down. Robinson banged it in and Abdullah Shafique swiped a catch to long leg in the fifth over. Azhar was hit second ball and went off, Babar lasted just five deliveries before departing and along with him went most of the crowd.
Keaton Jennings dropped Shakeel in the penultimate over of the day at short leg. No team has ever lost a first-class match having scored 657. Stokes, as we know, couldn’t care less about history. Whatever happens on Monday, England have entertained and done things differently, just like they promised.
STUMPS: PAK 80/2 (Shakeel 24 Imam 43)
Day five is set up brilliantly. Stokes has backed up his ‘we’re not interested in the draw’ chat with that bold declaration and been rewarded with two wickets before the close. Pakistan need 263 runs with eight wickets in hand. A lot will depend on this pair and the state of Azhar Ali’s fingers. This is still a very flat pitch and the hosts are very much still in this. If Shakeel and Imam can stay in until lunch then you’d make Pakistan the clear favourites to win this. That there is still much intrigue coming into the fifth day on this placid pitch is all down to Stokes’ captaincy and England exciting approach – brilliant stuff.
OVER 20: PAK 80/2 (Shakeel 24 Imam 43)
An Imam single gets Shakeel on strike and the left-hander defends the last three ball in his usual diligent manner and the umpires again meet to take a light reading and that is it for the day.
OVER 19: PAK 79/2 (Shakeel 24 Imam 42)
Half a chance for Keaton Jennings and England as Shakeel turns a Leach ball to leg. The sub fielder at short square leg gets a hand to it but cannot hold on – it came at him very quickly. Given that reprieve Shakeel then rocks onto to backfoot and pushes for two through the covers.
The umpires come together to discuss the light. They decide it’s OK and we’ll get at least another over in before stumps.
OVER 18: PAK 77/2 (Shakeel 22 Imam 42)
Joe Root is coming on to bowl and the batsmen, worried about the Root bouncer, call for their helmets – who thought you’d ever read that sentence ‘worried about the Root bouncer’? Remarkable.
The off spinner gets one to keep low and Imam does well to keep it out. Just two from the over.
OVER 17: PAK 75/2 (Shakeel 22 Imam 40)
Leach to Imam and he’s getting a little bit of turn, but it’s slow off the pitch and meat and drink to Iman who nudges for a single to mid on. Just that single from the over. I reckon there are about another 10 or so minutes left before darkness descends in Rawalpindi.
OVER 16: PAK 74/2 (Shakeel 22 Imam 39)
The light continues to fade as Jacks is hit down the ground by the ever-impressive Imam. No caution from the opener there who looks, once again, to be in good nick. He is using his feet well to the spinners deciding once at the pitch of the ball whether to attack, as with that last shot, or defend as with the next two.
OVER 15: PAK 69/2 (Shakeel 22 Imam 34)
Imam continues to come down the track to get to the pitch of the ball, he cuts for a two before then cutting in front of square for four. He picks up length so quickly and loves batting on this ground where he has three tons already and has started this knock impressively under trying circumstances. Seven from the over.
OVER 14: PAK 62/2 (Shakeel 22 Imam 27)
Will ‘six-fer’ Jacks comes into the attack and is greeted with an elegant stroke to leg from Imam which goes for three. The bowler of the first innings then drops one short and Shakeel cuts imperiously for four. The lights are now on and you suspect it will be spin for the rest of the day.
OVER 13: PAK 55/2 (Shakeel 18 Imam 24)
Imam dances down the track to Leach, getting to the pitch of the ball before defending diligently. He does the same next ball but this time gets a single for his efforts. Shakeel was clearly paying attention at the other end as he then comes down the pitch and chips over the infield for four. Stokes has left a lot of space out in the deep inviting the Pakistan duo to hit over the infield which Shakeel does once again for another four. This is an interesting game of cat and mouse.
OVER 12: PAK 46/2 (Shakeel 10 Imam 23)
Anderson comes round the wicket and continues to bang the ball in short again – the carry isn’t great, the ball is getting softer with every over and this is taking some effort from the 40-year-old. It’s another Anderson over without the ball being pitch up once – remarkable. There are five dot balls before Shakeel gets on top of the bounce and pulls for four.
England tactics spot on
OVER 11: PAK 42/2 (Shakeel 6 Imam 23)
The sun is beginning to go down in the Punjab so there are probably only another 40 or so minutes left of play today. Jack Leach comes on, can he find any turn at all? There’s a hint, only a hint mind, as he floats the ball up to Imam who is watchful in defence as he plays out a maiden.
OVER 10: PAK 42/2 (Shakeel 6 Imam 23)
Jimmy Anderson replaces Stokes and he continues with the short-ball ploy, bowling three bumpers first up taking the pitch – which is still doing absolutely nothing – out of the equation. The Lancashire Lara bowls a maiden without pitching the ball up once – possibly a first in his long, distinguished career?
OVER 9: PAK 42/2 (Shakeel 6 Imam 23)
There’s another Robinson no ball – his second of the innings – before Imam pirouettes and pulls for four. The next ball is short and the opener gets on top of it well, as he does with the next delivery which is again pulled for four. Imam was in total control there and this is a good response from him.
OVER 8: PAK 32/2 (Shakeel 5 Imam 15)
Pakistan have to dig in here – they have to remember this is still a flat pitch, the ball will get softer and the short stuff cannot continue in perpetuity. Indeed, Stokes’ knee will see to that. The England captain bowls a short wide one That Shakeel cuts for four to get off the mark. A single follows and there are six runs off that over.
OVER 7: PAK 26/2 (Shakeel 0 Imam 14)
The game has changed and now it seems as though this mountain may well be too high to climb for the hosts. In the matter of 10 minutes – Azhar’s injury and Babar’s wicket – England have really taken a huge step towards winning this Test. Just one from that Robinson over who, as you would imagine, continues pitching the ball short.
OVER 6: PAK 25/2 (Shakeel 0 Imam 13)
The short-ball ploy has definitely worked – Shafique and Babar have fallen to bumpers and Azhar is currently out injured (fingers) due to it and Pakistan are currently in disarray.
Great over for England – just what they would have dreamt of.
Babar c Pope b Stokes 4
A single for Imam opens this Stokes over and it’s now captain bowling to captain. And the England skipper sends his opposite number back to the pavilion by inducing the edge as Babar tries to stand tall against the short ball. That’s a huge wicket and a huge moment.
FOW – 25/2
One down, nine to go
OVER 5: PAK 24/1 (Babar 4 Imam 12)
Azhar Ali can bat long and that’s what they need him to do now, now he’s at the crease after that high-risky shot from Shafique. He gets right behind his first ball before one gets up a bit higher and he plays it well with soft hands. It’s hit him on the gloves and he needs the magic spray from the physio. After a short break the Crystal Palace fan (yep, that’s Azhar) decides he still cannot grip the bat and walks off.
So Babar Azam is in earlier than expected, to the joy of the fans. If England can get Babar out early that will put the proverbial cat among the proverbial pigeons…
The Pakistan captain defends his first ball before cutting for four his second.
Shafique c Brook b Robinson 6
The short-ball plan has worked as Shafique top edges a pull shot and only succeeds in finding the mitts of Brook out in the deep.
FOW – 20/1
OVER 4: PAK 20/0 (Shafique 6 Imam 12)
Stokes hasn’t got his radar working yet, the first ball is short and leg side allowing Shafique to pull for a single. Imam then gets on top of another short one and pulls in front of square for four – he got on top of the bounce well there and the outfield is lightning quick, another thing to remember regarding the Pakistan run chase.
OVER 3: PAK 15/0 (Shafique 5 Imam 8)
Robinson comes round the wicket to Shafique and gets in a good bouncer that carries head high to Pope behind the stumps. There’s a lot of effort in these deliveries from the England paceman, Shafique dabs one for a single down to third man to get Imam on strike. He blocks the final ball of the over but it’s not the final ball as it’s a no ball. The actual final ball is a bumper and so far there have been no worries or problems for the Pakistan openers.
Michael Vaughan on the England declaration
It’s an audacious declaration, but under Ben Stokes it honestly doesn’t surprise me. England are yet to draw a game under him and, on this pitch, that declaration effectively takes the draw out of the equation once again.
OVER 2: PAK 13/0 (Shafique 4 Imam 8)
It’s Stokes with the new ball from the other end, not Jimmy Anderson. Another sign that they are going the short-ball route in search of early wickets. The first ball is indeed short and Imam rocks back and pulls majestically for four. Next up it’s a short ball on the off side and Imam cuts for four, that was easy pickings for the opener. Those are the only runs from the over.
A reminder that this is a gettable carrot for the hosts – 343 in 100 overs on this pitch is definitely doable for Pakistan. There could be a few more twists and turns in this match.
OVER 1: PAK 5/0 (Shafique 4 Imam 0)
So roughly 100 overs for Pakistan to score 343 or England to take 10 wickets – who doesn’t love Test cricket, especially when it’s played as aggressively as this? It’s pure entertainment.
Ollie Robinson has the new ball, can he make it talk on this still flattest of flat tracks? Within a couple of deliveries the slips leave and England go for the short-ball tactic. Good carry from Robinson, who, remember, was bowling this morning. The negative side of scoring runs so quickly is that the attack doesn’t get as much rest as it would probably want. There’s a no-ball before Shafique ducks and prods his way to see out the rest of the opening over while pulling the last ball for four.
One of many highlights in that Innings was…
…undoubtedly the sight or Joe Root batting left-handed.
Here’s Will Macpherson’s take on the the brilliant bare-faced, talented cheek of Root and this exciting England batting line up.
Nick Hoult’s verdict at tea
This is England turning the volume up to 11: Joe Root batting left-handed, Harry Brook threatening their fastest Test hundred (again) and a declaration. England called time on their innings at tea. Pakistan need 343 in four sessions (around 110 overs given bad light), England ten wickets.
This lot will lose a few Tests, it’s inevitable playing this way and it could even be this one, but they back themselves to win more often than not and if it is this entertaining then fair enough.
Root made a fifty in the blink of an eye and without breaking sweat off 48 balls. Shortly after he swapped around and batted properly as a left-hander, sweeping his second ball which was dropped at point (which had been square leg). He went back to right handed after that but it was a pure contact many left-handers would be proud of.
A hundred felt inevitable until he top edged to fine leg. Zak Crawley plinked a fifty off 47 balls before he gloved a pull but Brook came in and played some of the most daring shots of the game.
His 87 off 65 was rocket fuel, 11 fours and three sixes were smashed with breathtaking power. The outfield is quick, but Brook hits the ball so hard he takes it almost out of the equation.
Gilbert Jessop’s record for England’s fastest Test hundred (76 balls) has stood since 1902. It is one of those records that has somehow stood the test of time, all the changing tides in the game and bigger bats.
But it is under siege from this England side. Jonny Bairstow fell two balls short in the summer at Trent Bridge, Brook five in the first innings here. He was racing to it today when on 87 he still had 11 balls to break the record.
It did not happen, but Multan next week could be the place.
Will Jacks supplied three sixes of his own – proving to be a Jack of All Trades – after his six fer earlier – the first time an England spinner has done that on debut since Peter Such nearly 30 years ago.
ENGLAND HAVE DECLARED!
That means they have given Pakistan roughly 100 overs to get 343…or themselves the same number of overs to get 10 wickets, which you think is about the number of overs they’ll need to take that many scalps on this pitch.
No vids of some of his brilliant shots
But here’s one of how Brook got out.
TEA – ENG 264/7
The umpires decide it’s time for tea. That was really great stuff from England that session, going at over seven an over. Thanks to Crawley, Root and the brilliant Brook the tourists now have a lead of 342. When will the declaration come? Could it even come during the interval?
Brook b Naseem 87
Naseem bowls to Brook who swings away, but it’s only to deep square leg for a single. Livingstone is on strike now and he gets a slower ball right in the you know where – well deceived by the Pakistan paceman. Brook dabs on for a single down to third man – the record for quickest England ton is Gilbert Jessop’s 76-ball century way back when…can he do it?
No he cannot as he is bowled while aiming a mighty heave to leg – what an innings from England’s brightest young star!
FOW – 264/7
OVER 35: ENG 260/6 (Brook 85 LIvingstone 5)
Livingstone is looking for boundaries as he’s hobbling when running. He hits a two before limping for another two off this Ali over. A single gets Brook on strike who may well be eying up another destructive and impressive ton. He’s 84 off 60 at the moment and as I type he tries to scoop a slower ball and ends up arse over tit – everyone, including him, sees the funny side. The lead is now 338.
OVER 34: ENG 253/6 (Brook 84 LIvingstone 1)
Livingstone is ok to bat as he joins Brook out in the middle. Brook is on strike and biffs one to the mid-wicket boundary, it’s misfielded by Shakeel and goes for four…exactly what Pakistan didn’t need. The lead is up to 331.
Jacks c Iman b Salman 24
This is destructive batting from England. Jacks this time hits consecutive sixes to the leg side. But when going for the third maximum, he’s caught at mid off. Selfless batting from the Surry man there.
FOW – 248/6
OVER 33: ENG 235/5 (Brook 79 Jacks 12)
Brook dances down the pitch to Mahmood and hits yet another effortless six, this one down the ground. So pleasing on the eye. That’s his third of the innings and eighth of the match. He then comes down the track again for four. And last ball of the over Jacks hits his first six, this one down the ground. If you’re a Pakistan batsman you want Stokes to declare now…
OVER 32: ENG 218/5 (Brook 68 Jacks 6)
Jacks gets in on the act with a, yep, you’ve guessed it, a reverse sweep for four. What used to be a dashy, risky shot is now so run of the mill for this generation. It makes an old blocker like me very jealous…The lead is now up to 296.
How Stokes was sent back to the pavilion
OVER 31: ENG 209/5 (Brook 63 Jacks 2)
Mahmood continues round the wicket, Brook comes down the pitch and gives Rizwan a sniff of a stumping but the England man gets back. Brook then does what he does best – times the ball with so little effort for six to cow corner. I’ve said it before and I’ll doubtless say it again many many more times over the next decade, he looks to be some player. As I type that he then dances down the pitch and sweeps on the move for another boundary – this one a four.
Root or Gower?
OVER 30: ENG 196/5 (Brook 52 Jacks 2)
Brook adds to his maiden Test ton with an effortless, stylish 50. Never mind this Test, he looks like a man for the next decade at least for England. When Stokes departed he had a long chat with Brook, I assume to let him know exactly what the ideal total is for them to declare. The England lead is now up to 276.
OVER 29: ENG 192/5 (Brook 49 Jacks 0)
So the lead is 270 when Stokes departed and have the chances of a Pakistan win come back into play? Will jakcs is the new batsman and can Livingstone with his bad knee bat?
A double wicket maiden for Mahmood!
Stokes c Shakeel b Mahmood 0
The England skipper is the new batsman and having not scored off his first two balls he then tries to take the attack to the hosts and only succeeds in popping one up to extra cover for the easiest of catches. He was reaching for that and not exaclty sure what shot he was attempting there.
FOW – 192/5
Root c Iman b Mahmood 73
A conventional sweep this time ends in Root’s departure as the ball kicks up and finds the mitts of Iman at leg gully.
FOW – 192/4
OVER 28: ENG 192/3 (Brook 49 Root 73)
Brook looks so at ease out there and again sweeps without much fuss for four – the fielder only had to move about 10 yards but so well timed was the shot that he didn’t get close.
Nick Hoult in Rawalpindi on Root batting left handed.
Have we reached peak Bazball with Joe Root batting left-handed? He was dropped but it was a very clean, textbook sweep that looked better than some left-handers I’ve seen batting in England’s top four. Also, Root is the unshowiest of players. No ego and certainly not a show off. On his first tour to India, his parents pulled aside the media officer and asked if he was becoming a “big head”, they worried he might change, so he’s been brought up to be respectful to the game. He was so miserable a year ago in Australia. It is credit to McCullum and Stokes how they have brought the fun back.
OVER 27: ENG 185/3 (Brook 44 Root 71)
Brook smashes a Mahmood ball down the ground with supreme ease – he’s such a clean striker of the ball. He follows that up with a perfectly timed sweep for another boundary. Runs are flowing with ease for the tourists at the moment.
England’s lead is now up to 263.
OVER 26: ENG 175/3 (Brook 35 Root 70)
Salman and his off spin comes into the attack – you suspect this is damage limitation time for the hosts. He bowls round the wicket and leg side into the rough, trying to stem the flow of runs that way. Root reverses him with ease to illustrate how hard it is to set fields these days, right handers can (as we saw an over or two ago) so easily become left handers in the blink of an eye. With with the negative line Salman bowled England still eked out seven runs.
OVER 25: ENG 168/3 (Brook 32 Root 65)
Another over of nudging, nurdling and sweeping the ball for ones and twos. Five from it.
OVER 24: ENG 163/3 (Brook 31 Root 63)
Brook plays a brilliant cover drive – as good as you’ll see – for four. That was as good as it gets, he played it right under the eyes and as soon as he hit it he didn’t move – perfection. The brilliant Babar played a fine cover drive yesterday but that one was perhaps even better. Root gets in on the act with a flick off his legs for four. The lead is now 241.
The highest run chase in Pakistan is 314 when the hosts beat Australia in Karachi in 1994.
OVER 23: ENG 153/3 (Brook 26 Root 58)
Mahmood comes round the wicket AND Root decides to bat left-handed, yep, Root is batting left handed. He sweeps the ball for a single. Batting is hard enough right handed but England master decides that’s too easy – remarkable. Two balls later he reverts to batting right-handed and reverse sweeps for four. Such a good batsman.
OVER 22: ENG 146/3 (Brook 25 Root 52)
Root drives Naseem down the ground to bring up his 50 – it’s come off 48 balls and the runs are coming too easily for the tourists at the moment. It’s as though Pakistan are waiting for the declaration and then will decide what to do rather than putting in place any plan to either stem the flow of runs or take wickets.
Will Macpherson on Zak Crawley
An entertaining end, as he tried to dupe Babar with a rub of the shoulder, but that was an encouraging Test for Zak Crawley. Not least in that his average has drifted up from 27.3 to 29.5. My guess would be that it will continue to rise this winter, with two more Tests in Pakistan and two in New Zealand, which has been a nice place to bat in recent years. Crawley looks in prime touch, and really loves facing Pakistan, against whom he averages 123! England have invested so much in him, this is the winter he needs to provide a return. Excellent start.
OVER 21: ENG 141/3 (Brook 25 Root 47)
Brook hits a sublime four down the ground off Mahmood and is, for Pakistan, looking in ominously good form. Another good over for England, with 10 coming off that over, the lead is now 219.
OVER 20: ENG 131/3 (Brook 19 Root 43)
Naseem returns to the attack, he’s been the pick of the bowlers, can he conjure up another wicket, which is what Pakistan need at the moment? He cannot but just the four runs from that over as some great fielding prevents Brook from hitting a four down the ground.
OVER 19: ENG 127/3 (Brook 18 Root 40)
Brook plays a majestic driver through extra cover for four – he’s playing with the utmost confidence and skill. That means the lead is over 200 – so you’d think the tourists will want another 120ish before thinking of declaring.
OVER 18: ENG 118/3 (Brook 12 Root 37)
BREAKING NEWS: Just the one run off that over from Ali. For once Pakistan have stemmed the flow of runs.
OVER 17: ENG 117/3 (Brook 12 Root 36)
Mahmood is tidy, going for just two runs off his first five balls until he drops one short to Brook who doesn’t look this gift horse in the mouth and biffs the ball to the mid-wicket boundary.
How Crawley was sent back to the pavilion
OVER 16: ENG 111/3 (Brook 7 Root 35)
Ali is bowling too leg side and both Root and Brook can nudge for ones and twos with ease and without any risk. Root then drives beautifully, but there’s a man out there and it’s just for two. England’s lead is now up to 189.
OVER 15: ENG 105/3 (Brook 6 Root 30)
Mahmood’s first two balls are hit for a two and a single by Root. That gets Brook on strike, the young batsman then dispatches a half tracker for six to cow corner, that’s a statement of intent. He absolutely nailed that.
OVER 14: ENG 96/3 (Brook 0 Root 27)
Harry Brook is the new man in, doubtless confident after his big hundred in the first innings.
Crawley c Rizwan b Ali 50
Ali bowls a no bowl – not what the hosts need – before Crawley reaches his 50 with a push through point. He does like batting against Pakistan. That half ton has come off 47, so slower than in the first innings but still fairly rapid. Crawley then tries to pull a short one, he misses and Pakistan think he’s gloved it to Rizwan behind the stumps. It’s given not out but the hosts are sure he got something on it and review. And ultra edge confirms their view and the opener – after a fine quick knock – is out.
FOW – 96/3
Here’s that Crawley for I was salivating over earlier
OVER 13: ENG 91/2 (Crawley 48 Root 25)
Time for spin as Mahmood comes on. He starts with four dot balls (very welcome dot balls) as he pushes the ball through, it’s a slowish pitch with still very little turn. Just one from the over – exactly what the hosts needed.
OVER 12: ENG 90/2 (Crawley 47 Root 25)
As if to emphasise what a good pitch this still is and what fine form Crawley is in, the England opener hits a delightful backfoot punch for four – he hit it at the top of the bounce and was great to watch. Ali then gets one to keep low, Root does well to get a bat on that. Next up the former captain runs one down to the vacant third man boundary for another four – problems for Pakistan who are leaking runs and boundaries at the moment. Forty four runs have come since lunch without England really breaking sweat.
The 50 partnership has come off just 39 deliveries
OVER 11: ENG 80/2 (Crawley 42 Root 20)
Crawley again plays an easy-on-the-eye shot to the leg side for four. Babar needs another man on that side of the wicket which he now does but that opens up the off side and Crawley then drives through point for four. He looks in good nick. Root, now on strike, then scoops over the slips for four – he’s so good at that shot. England are going up a gear here. Fourteen runs from that Naseem over.
OVER 10: ENG 66/2 (Crawley 33 Root 15)
Again the runs are coming via ones and twos, there are a lot of spaces for this pair to drop the ball into and score risk-free runs. As I type that Crawley comes down the pitch and misses one that stays low – England won’t mind seeing that with 10 wickets needed over the next day and half. The next ball Crawley doesn’t miss – picking up the ball from outside off stump and flicking it for four down to long on – there was a hint of Kevin Pietersen about that delightful shot.
OVER 9: ENG 58/2 (Crawley 28 Root 12)
England are pushes, nudging and nurdling runs here, which are coming easily at the moment – the field quite spread out. Root opens the face to a Naseem ball, it goes for four and that’s a bit of class from the former captain. The run rate is good – 6.4 – without the tourists having to throw the bat at the ball.
OVER 8 ENG 50/2 (Crawley 25 Root 7)
This could be a very exciting session – England will likely go gung ho…
It’s Ali with the ball after lunch Root flicks one off his leg for a single to get Crawley on strike, the opener pushes the ball into the off side for another single. A Root two follows – a nudge round the corner – and England lead by 128.
There’s little doubt that Will Jacks was the star of the England attack
The Surrey off-spinner is far from the finished article but took six wickets on his Test debut on the most placid of pitches. Here’s Will Macpherson on England’s new spin king.
Nick Hoult’s lunchtime verdict
England are on the declaration charge: 46 for two at lunch, they are 124 ahead looking to set a target and try and win this Test but in doing so run the risk of losing too. That is the Bazball way.
Pakistan had a good morning, attacking and cutting the deficit to just 78 before they were bowled out for 579. Will Jacks became the unlikeliest of players to chalk up the achievement of being the first England spinner to take a five-fer in his first innings since Peter Such nearly 30 years ago. His six for 161 will be a huge boost for his confidence given he had not taken a first class wicket until last year and England have something to work with in a player keen to become an all-rounder.
England have made it clear they will risk losing to win – the new management channelling the Shane Warne approach – and a clatter of wickets will bring Pakistan in the game.
The afternoon session is the easiest to bat, the pitch is doing nothing and Pakistan are a bowler down with Haris Rauf injured so strap in.
It did not start well. Ben Duckett fell first ball, following his hundred with a golden duck, and Ollie Pope, understandably tired after 155 overs keeping, holed out to deep square leg for 15.
Earlier, Agha Salman crashed a fifty and Zehid Mahmood a useful 17 before Jacks took all the wickets to fall. Salman was caught at slip, Mahmood stumped by Pope, his first in pro cricket, and Rauf caught off top edge by Root at slip slogging.
LUNCH: ENG 46/2 (Crawley 24 Root 4)
The game has opened up somewhat and there’s still all to play for for both sides. England are going at 6.57 at the moment and you’d think it will be more of the same when they come out after lunch.
OVER 7: ENG 46/2 (Crawley 24 Root 4)
A Root single gets Crawley on strike and he chips a Naseem full toss just over mid off – that could easily have been a wicket – pretty poor cricket all round there. It was a slower delivery and the England opener was deceived to give some credit to Naseem.
That’s time for lunch and England lead by 124 runs.
OVER 6: ENG 41/2 (Crawley 21 Root 2)
Root is the new batsman and is off the mark straight away with a nudge to leg side. Two singles and a two off the bat of Crawley follow
One thing to remember is that with England trying to take the draw out of play Pakistan will always be in this match and quick wickets only add to that argument.
Pope c Naseem b Ali 15
A perfect bouncer – no mean feat on this pitch – is taken on by Pope who cannot control it and Naseem takes at fine leg. Well done Pakistan. To bowl that would have taken some effort.
FOW – 36/2
OVER 5: ENG 36/1 (Crawley 18 Pope 15)
Two great leg-side shots from Crawley. The first a whip off his legs for four, the second a pull in front of square with the same result. Naseem then learns his lesson and pitches the next ball up – on this surface the ball sits up if too short and it’s easy runs for a side looking to hurry up. The last ball of the over Crawley gets a leaning edge and Naseem drops a very hard chance on the move with his left hand. Never easy to catch on the follow through.
From feast to famine
OVER 4: ENG 26/1 (Crawley 8 Pope 15)
England, as you have come to expect, are being positive. Pope guides one for two down to third man. A single follows to get Crawley on strike. He again pushes one to the off side but the field is already sort of spread with several men out in the deep so it’s just for one. Babar is trying to contain the tourists rather than go for wickets. But nine runs come from that over with easy runs out there.
More from Nick Hoult at the ground
If Nick Hoult is right and England’s aim is to set 320 in 80 overs that means they have about 60 overs to score 242 – pedestrian for this side, no?
Good point from Greg. They will want a bowl tonight and Babar is so conservative, I can’t see him going for anything.
OVER 3: ENG 15/1 (Crawley 7 Pope 6)
Crawley is watchful the first two deliveries from Naseem before freeing his arms at a wide one and timing one for four through the covers – great shot.
OVER 2: ENG 11/1 (Crawley 3 Pope 6)
Ali with the second over, a Crawley single gets Pope on strike and the Pakistan bowler gets good bounce as the England batsman comes down the pitch. There’s a hint of swing there but that doesn’t worry Pope who again comes come the track and forearm jabs the ball for four to cow corner. Two more runs follow and it’s already clear that England don’t plan on hanging around.
OVER 1: ENG 4/1 (Crawley 2 Pope 0)
Well that’s a contrast to the first innings – from brilliant ton to first-ball duck for Duckett. Pope, another centurion, is the new man at the crease. Great start from the hosts who are excited again when Naseem thinks he has Crawley lbw – it’s given not out and that because the replay shows that it was going down leg side, and there was a tickle of an inside edge.
Duckett c Salman b Naseem 0
Naseem Shah bowls the first over and first ball Crawley pulls, just for one, but it’s clear that this is going to be a one-day approach to betting (no shock there). Then second ball Duckett tries to guide one down to third man but only succeeds in directing the ball into the hands of Salman at second slip.
FOW – 1/1
What’s the game plan now then?
If Nick Hoult is right and England’s aim is to set 320 in 80 overs that means they have about 60 overs to score 242 – pedestrian for this side, no?
From Nick Hoult at the ground – England to set 320 in 80 overs?
That’s a great effort by England to take a 78-run lead on this pitch and with this attack. Will Jacks had not taken a first class wicket until last year now he has six. It is fair to say the honours board in Pindi is much shorter for bowling than batting but he’s on there now. Word is England will set 320 in 80 overs
Who said Jacks was a part-time spinner?
England lead by 78
So that’s the first part of England’s challenge completed – bowl out the hosts. The tourists have a 78-run lead and now the order of the day is quick runs to set a target for Pakistan and to give themselves enough time to take 10 wickets for the unlikely win. You’d have to say the draw is still the favourite…
Well bowled by Will Jacks – the last spinner to take six wickets on debut was Peter Such way back in 1993.
Rauf c Root b Jacks 12
Rauf tries to launch Jacks down the ground over his head but only succeeds in finding the edge with the ball finding the mitts of Root at first slip.
FOW – 579 all out
OVER 155: PAK 579/9 (Ali 0 Rauf 12)
Robinson gets one to reach chest high to Rauf who fends it off – more a miscue – but the ball is out of the reach of Jennings at short-square leg. The England bowler continues with the short stuff – he’s bowling a great line, in at the ribs with a leg side field waiting to snap up any more miscues. The Pakistan pair, however, survive the examination.
OVER 155: PAK 576/9 (Ali 0 Rauf 9)
Just the one wicket needed for the tourists now with Pakistan 81 runs behind their first-inning total. Have Ben Stokes’ men enough time to force the win?
Mahmood st Pope b Jacks 17
Jacks to Mahmood and fourth ball over the over the tailender is beaten all ends up and England appeal – not sure it it’s for a caught behind or stumping. The replay shows there was no nick so we go to the stumping and the Pakistan batman’s foot was on the line but it doesn’t look as though any part is behind the line. ANd indeed Erasmus the third umpire gives it out and Jacks has a five-fer on debut.
FOW – 576/9
OVER 153: PAK 575/8 (Mahmood 17 Rauf 8)
The longer Pakistan bat the less time England will have (i) to set a target and (ii) to get the 10 wickets they need to win. Every over that passes increases the chance of this ending in a draw. Ollie Robinson continues his toil and is clipped for a single by local boy Rauf before Mahmood glances one for two.
OVER 152: PAK 572/8 (Mahmmod 15 Rauf 7)
Rauf comes down the pitch and hits Jacks over the top for two. Mahmood then joins the party sweeping well for four. Jacks has had enough of watching these tailenders enjoy themselves and then beats the outside edge of Mahmood. Time for drinks.
OVER 151: PAK 565/8 (Mahmood 11 Rauf 4)
It’s time for Ollie Robinson, it looks as though he’s going to try and test these tailenders on the back foot if he can – it’s hard work getting the ball to rear up above chest height on this pitch, however. He opens with two bouncers then fires in the yorker, but Rauf, wet behind the ears at this level though he may be, isn’t falling for that old trick.
OVER 150: PAK 563/8 (Mahmood 11 Rauf 3)
Jacks is looking for a five-fer on debut, Rauf is on strike. He doesn’t get the ninth wicket but there is just one run from that over.
The end of the Salman show
OVER 149: PAK 562/8 (Mahmood 11 Rauf 2)
Who was calling Mahmood a blocker? Oh, yes, that was me…The tailender slog sweeps Leach for a six, forcing Brook into taking some quick evasive action, he being one of the many close fielders under the nose of the batsman.
OVER 148: PAK 555/8 (Mahmood 5 Rauf 1)
Another Test wicket for Jacks who is is England’s star man with the ball this innings – who would have predicted that before day one? New batsman Rauf is off the mark early on.
Salman c Crawley b Jacks 53
It’s a fourth wicket for Jacks and what a scalp it is. Salman was playing well and stalling England’s unlikely victory charge. The part-time spinner comes round the wicket and Salman is slightly squared up trying to play the ball to leg and only succeeds is edging to Crawly at first slip.
FOW – 554/8
What’s England’s game plan now?
Here’s Will Macpherson on the day so far.
England are determined to try to carve a winning position, but the 50-odd runs Pakistan have added quickly this morning will make that difficult. We know how England will bat, but they don’t want to fall in a heap (although that may be an achievement on this pitch). Pakistan will end up relatively close to their score; they will then need to dangle a carrot on the final day. Their enterprise and skill will be severely tested if they want a win.
OVER 147: PAK 554/7 (Mahmmod 5 Salman 53)
Leach’s first ball beats everyone and flies for four byes – that brings up the 50 partnership, this pair have done well and stalled England’s momentum somewhat. The field is up and Salman whips his hands through the ball, lifting it over the infield for four to the vacant deep extra-cover region. That brings up his 50 and it’s been a fine knock.
OVER 146: PAK 545/7 (Mahmmod 5 Salman 48)
Jacks continues to bowl round the wicket, he gives Salman a bit of width and the Pakistan batsman flat bats it through the covers for two. The next ball the batsman scampers for a single and he’ll have the strike the the next over. That was a but risky and a sign of taking a risk when, on this placid pitch, you really don’t need to. The hosts now trail by 112.
OVER 145: PAK 542/7 (Mahmmod 5 Salman 45)
Leach continues to bowl at Mahmood and the tailender continues with his masterclass in diligent defence. There’s a bit of spin but it’s very slow off the pitch. It’s a maiden.
OVER 144: PAK 542/7 (Mahmmod 5 Salman 45)
Salman looks completely untroubled out there at the moment, he’s in good nick and opens the over with a drive through extra cover for two. Sub fielder Keaton Jennings is on the boundary right behind the bowler, Jacks. He doesn’t bother Salman, though, who picks up another six runs, four of which came via a reverse sweep that Joe Root, at first slip, nearly caught – that would have been some catch. Then final ball of the over Jacks, going round the wicket, traps Salman lbw with the batsman going for a sweep. Salman immediately reviews and with good reason as it’s pitched well outside leg stump.
OVER 143: PAK 534/7 (Mahmmod 5 Salman 37)
It’s Leach to Mahmood and he’s got company, absolutely surrounded by close fielders. They don’t bother him, though, as he diligently plays out a maiden over with a straight bat, showing the makers name with each block to delight the authors of the MCC textbook.
OVER 142: PAK 534/7 (Mahmmod 5 Salman 37)
It’s time for Will Jacks, he of three-wickets-yesterday fame. The part-time spinner is hit first ball straight down the ground by Salman, batting in a cap (always good to see…) for four. The very next ball the Pakistan batsman brings the reverse sweep out of his locker and that too is a peach of a shot – he looks in very good nick out there at the moment.
For all the hope of quick wickets for England this morning – and they still may come – the play so far today has reminded everyone that scalps are hard to come by on this flattest of flat tracks.
OVER 141: PAK 526/7 (Mahmmod 5 Salman 29)
Leach again beats the bat of Salman who is looking to hit through the covers, he’s slightly off balance and Pope whips off the bails. There’s a hint of a possibility of a stumping BUT the replay shows the batsman got back in time. With the field spread Salman takes the easy single off the third ball knowing Mahmood has looked, so far at least, handy and solid with the bat. If you’re looking to just defend on this pitch then it can be a nightmare for the bowling side as Mahmood illustrates – the No 9 looking completely unflustered as he blocks the final three deliveries.
OVER 140: PAK 525/7 (Mahmmod 5 Salman 28)
Anderson, bowling over the wicket, gets one to shape into the right-handed Mahmood but it flies down leg side, past wicketkeeper Pope for four byes. He might want to go round the wicket with that indipper to bring lbw into play…Jimmy stays over the wicket and Mahmood – whose first-class average is a paltry 11 – opens the face and guides the ball for four to the vacant third man area in the guise of a master craftsman. Good stuff from the blocker there.
From Nick Hoult at the ground
Still no Liam Livingstone for England due to his knee problem. It must be a concern now whether he will play any part in the Test and Multan next week. They will miss his leg breaks in the second innings, but spin is one area they have covered in the squad with Rehan Ahmed here. He must be close to a debut next week.
OVER 139: PAK 517/7 (Mahmmod 1 Salman 28)
Salman is a fine player of spin and he serves up Exhibit A in that argument with a brilliant sweep for four off Leach’s first ball. The left-armer then beats the bat of the Pakistan batsman, Salman feeling for a wide one that turned ever so slightly. Fourth ball of the over the fielders come in and Salman takes up the invitation to hit over the infield in some style – a six down the ground. The very next delivery Salman flicks through mid-wicket for another boundary – this one a four – brilliant stuff from the Pakistan batsman, he’s looking in good nick.
The hosts now trail by 140 runs.
OVER 138: PAK 503/7 (Mahmmod 1 Salman 14)
It’s Jimmy Anderson with the second over of the day and first ball it’s clear that there is some reverse swing BUT it’s just gentle reverse swing. You really need Waqar pace to make that reverse swing threatening on a pitch such as this. Third ball of the over Salman could easily take a single but says no, that’s the first time he’s protected Mahmood. The next ball he does take a single, with a dab to point, reckoning his partner can cope with the last two balls of the over. That he does well.
OVER 137 : PAK 502/7 (Mahmmod 1 Salman 13)
Salman brings up the 500 second ball of the day, bowled by Leach, with a push into the leg side. He repeats the trick the very next ball but this time just for a single. Salman can bat, it’s the other end that will really excite England, Mahmood is just a blocker. But the tailender copes well with the final three balls of the over.
So how much chance do you give of England forcing the win?
That late burst yesterday has given them slight hope but there are about 160 overs left in this Test and England need 13 wickets in that time and will bat as well. The pitch isn’t really deteriorating but Joe Root’s comments after Saturday’s play were interesting. Here they are in full.
“With our team and the way we play our cricket we will be making sure we give ourselves a chance of winning the game. We are not really interested in drawing the match. We want to give ourselves the best chance of winning it, and if Pakistan are good enough to beat us, then so be it. We have three big wickets to take, then we will try to crash a few around and try to get to a reasonable total. There’s still a lot of entertaining cricket to play over the next two days.”
Preview: A slither of hope for England
Not long before the tea interval on the third day I wrote something along the lines of ‘bet your house on this Test ending in a draw’. I hope no one followed my advice because (i) you should never bet your house on anything and (ii) since I offered that suggestion the chances of an England victory have greatly increased.
That’s thanks to a superb final session for the tourists on day three, during which they took four wickets – deserved reward for their toil throughout the day on a placid pitch that has seen seven centuries scored on it since Thursday.
Ben Stokes’ side could so easily have waved the white flag and let the game meander – many teams would have. But funky fields, perseverance and some poor shots by the Pakistan batsmen mean England have a slither – it’s still just that – of hope that they can force an unlikely victory.
The hosts start the day on 499 for seven, still 158 runs behind England’s daunting first-innings total of 657, and early wickets are the order of the day for Stokes’ side.
Despite the draw still being the most likely result England only have only one thing on their minds, and that’s a win.
“With our team and the way we play our cricket we will be making sure we give ourselves a chance of winning the game,” Joe Root said after the end of Saturday’s action.
“We are not really interested in drawing the match. We want to give ourselves the best chance of winning it, and if Pakistan are good enough to beat us, then so be it. We have three big wickets to take, then we will try to crash a few around and try to get to a reasonable total. There’s still a lot of entertaining cricket to play over the next two days.”
Since Stokes and Brendon McCullum joined forces at the start of the summer they have changed the idea of what’s possible in Test cricket – not least as seen by the 500 runs scored on day one of this Test. But if they were somehow able to force a victory on this flattest of flat tracks it would perhaps be the most remarkable win of the Bazball era so far.