Lunch: Pakistan 298 for 3 (Imam 121, Shafique 114, Babar 28*, Shakeel 0*, Leach 2-102) trail England 657 by 359 runs
Three wickets to spin put England back in control on the third morning after centuries to Pakistan openers Abdullah Shafique and Imam-ul-Haq had laid down a roadblock on their Rawalpindi rampage.
Having resumed on 181 without loss, Pakistan were 298 for 3 at lunch in response to England’s massive first-innings 657, thanks to Will Jacks’ maiden Test wicket followed by two to frontline spinner Jack Leach, including one with the new ball.
Shafique, who started the day on 89, was first to raise his century, in the fifth over of the day, clubbing Joe Root over the rope at deep midwicket to move to 99 before carving the next ball behind point for a single. Imam navigated his way through the 90s a little nervously before following his partner to a ton with four through the leg side off Root.
It was the first time a Test match had featured two double-century opening stands and only the second time the four openers had scored centuries, though the first time it had occurred in the first two innings.
It wasn’t until Jacks replaced Root that England finally made the breakthrough. Jacks’ first ball of the day was pummelled through the covers by Shafique but, three balls later, Shafique tried to cut a wider one and edged behind to keeper Ollie Pope, standing in for Ben Foakes, who was too ill with the stomach bug which hit the England camp on match eve to commence this first Test. Jacks has bowled 18 overs so far with fellow debutant Liam Livingstone unable to chip in with his combination of offspin and legspin after jarring his knee on the second day.
While they hadn’t been scoring at England’s blistering rate of better than a run a ball, Pakistan’s opening stand of 225 on an incredibly flat pitch didn’t look bad in comparison to the record 233 put on by Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett.
Imam launched Leach for six over wide long-on the over after Shafique was dismissed, but Leach soon responded with the second wicket of the morning, Imam picking out Ollie Robinson at long-on.
Robinson entered the attack and James Anderson joined him inside the last half-hour of the morning. Anderson saw a chance go begging when he found an inside edge off Azhar Ali only to see it zip through Crawley’s fingers at leg slip as he reached to his left.
Despite faint hints of reverse swing, England took the new ball and handed it to Leach, and he trapped Azhar lbw almost immediately with one that skidded on to the knee roll in line with leg stump.