Tea: England 657 and 264 for 7 dec (Brook 87, Root 73, Crawley 50) lead Pakistan 579 (Babar 136, Imam 121, Shafique 114) by 342 runs
Fifites to Harry Brook, Joe Root and Zak Crawley stretched England’s lead over Pakistan to 342 runs as captain Ben Stokes declared during the tea break on the penultimate day of an intriguing first Test in Rawalpindi.
England lost wickets in small clumps in their second innings, reaching 46 for 2 in seven overs by lunch, a lead of 124 runs, and by tea they had pumped up their advantage for the loss of five more. That was after Will Jacks had claimed a five-wicket haul on debut and Agha Salman had posted a damage-limiting fifty for Pakistan in the morning session.
Brook stole the show for a second time in just his second Test. Having top-scored in England’s first innings with a rapid 153 of just 116 balls, he threatened to post another quickfire century with a boundary laden 87 off 65 balls before he was bowled by Naseem Shah on the stroke of tea.
Crawley added another fifty to his first-innings 122, but no sooner had he brought up his latest milestone in 47 balls, he was caught behind off a Mohammad Ali short ball with Pakistan overturning umpire Ahsan Raza’s not-out decision when replays showed that the ball had kissed the glove on the way through to Mohammad Rizwan.
Root reached the same milestone off 48 deliveries, crashing Naseem’s fuller ball through mid-off to the boundary as England kept the tempo high. Then, in an unconventional move, Root switched to batting left-handed on the first ball of legspinner Zahid Mahmood’s first over after drinks.
He produced two sweeps, the second of which was put down by Naseem at midwicket then, switching back to right-handed, Root reverse-swept the next ball he faced through backward point for four. Root fell sweeping too, top-edging a Zahid delivery which was going wide down the leg side to Imam-ul-Haq at short backward square. Ben Stokes followed for a duck off the third ball he faced, chasing a Zahid ball outside off and bobbing a catch to Saud Shakeel at cover.
At that point, England’s lead was 270 and Brook continued a silky display of sublime strokeplay and exquisite timing before he chased one big shot too many.
Jacks staged a doughty cameo of 24 off 13 balls, including three sixes, before he holed out to long-off, bringing like-minded heavy hitter Liam Livingstone to the crease after spending much of the Pakistan innings off the field with a knee injury.
After Jacks had cleared up Pakistan’s tail following an hour-and-a-half worth of resistance led by Salman’s 53 to leave Pakistan with a 78-run first-innings deficit, the home side made early inroads.
Naseem snared the wicket of Ben Duckett – one of England’s four centurions in the first innings – for a first-ball duck trying to steer through deep third but picking out Salman at second slip.
Naseem could have had a second when Crawley, who had just hit him for back-to-back fours through the leg side in the fifth over, sent a leading edge back towards the bowler, who got his left hand to it on his follow-through but couldn’t hold on.
Straight away, however, on the first ball of the next over, Naseem made amends when he swallowed a catch at deep backward square to remove Ollie Pope, who had skied Mohammad Ali’s superb bouncer.
Jacks, called up as a late replacement for Ben Foakes who was struck down by illness on the eve of the match, ended up bowling more than he ever would have imagined with fellow debutant and part-time spinner Livingstone out of action. Jacks sent down down 40.3 overs – second behind only frontline spinner Jack Leach’s 49 – and walked away with 6 for 161.
Jacks, the 24-year-old big-hitter, came into the game with just 21 first-class wickets, began the day with three more already to his name – including that of Pakistan captain Babar Azam. After the hosts resumed on 499 for 7, Jacks took care of the rest.
Salman, on 10 overnight, helped himself to 16 off the third over of the day, swinging Leach through square leg for four off the first ball before dispatching the last two for six down the ground and four through midwicket, respectively.
He brought up his second Test fifty with a well-placed chip off Leach over the covers which raced to the boundary but fell a short time later, edging Jacks to Crawley at slip.
The dismissal brought in Test debutant Haris Rauf, who was cleared to bat but won’t bowl in England’s second innings after suffering a thigh strain rolling over the ball while fielding on the first day.
Zahid put on a steadfast 17 off 48 balls before he tried to reverse sweep Jacks and was stumped by Pope, acting wicketkeeper in Foakes’ absence and Rauf was the last man out, chasing a wider Jacks delivery and edging to Root, who took a strong catch reaching overhead at slip.