Pakistan frustrate England at Egbaston

2016-08-04 18:43
Cricket bat and ball (Getty Images)

Birmingham - Novice opener Sami Aslam and Azhar Ali shared an unbroken stand of 154 after Pakistan lost Mohammad Hafeez without a run on the board in the third Test against England at Edgbaston on Thursday.

At tea, the recalled Aslam was a Test-best 69 not out and Azhar, dropped twice, 72 not out in a total of 154 for one.

That left Pakistan 143 runs behind England's first innings 297.

Pakistan were none for one just four balls into their innings on Thursday when Hafeez fell for a duck after lazily guiding a short James Anderson delivery to Gary Ballance at point.

The tourists had seen Sohail Khan, one of their two changes from the side beaten by 330 runs in the second Test at Old Trafford as England levelled the four-match series at 1-1, take five wickets on Wednesday.

Now all eyes were on Aslam, also playing just his third Test, after the 20-year-old had been brought in to replace struggling opener Shan Masood.

Left-hander Aslam steered Stuart Broad wide of gully for the first four of Pakistan's innings in the fifth over.

His only prior innings this tour had seen Aslam make just 17 against Worcestershire last week in a two-day warm-up match.

Yet the well-organised opener played with a maturity belying his years in both attack and defence.

Azhar showed his class by calmly turning Anderson off his legs for four.

And when all-rounder Chris Woakes overpitched on his Warwickshire home ground, Azhar elegantly drove him through the covers for another boundary.

The stylish 31-year-old was equally severe when fast bowler Steven Finn dropped short, cutting him for four over point.

Off-spinner Moeen Ali received similar treatment, with Azhar cutting a rank short ball for four.

Pakistan reached lunch on 72 for one, with Aslam 27 not out and Azhar 38 not out.

Those scores remained unaltered when Azhar, in a rare indiscretion, went for a flashing drive outside off stump against Anderson, only for Joe Root to drop the awkward second-slip chance to his left.

Azhar quickly reverted to a more patient style of play before cover-driving a wide Broad ball off the front foot for a resounding four.

Another cover-drive, this time off Finn for three, saw Azhar complete a 129-ball fifty, including six fours, in nearly three hours at the crease.

Aslam's swept four off Ali then saw him to the landmark, his maiden Test fifty coming in 135 balls with five boundaries.

It was the start of a sequence of three fours in five balls from Ali for Aslam, including a lofted drive over the top of mid-on.

Azhar almost fell to a similar shot off Ali when on 68, but the bowler was unable to hold a tough return chance above his head off a hard-hit drive.

The corresponding Test at Edgbaston in 2010 saw Pakistan bowled out for just 72 in their first innings, with Azhar making a 32-ball nought.

Wednesday saw Sohail justify both his inclusion, and Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq's decision to field first, by taking a Test-best five for 96.

After the 32-year-old paceman sparked a top-order collapse, England were indebted to left-handers Ballance (70) and Ali (63) for getting them close to 300.

Read more on:    pakistan  |  england  |  cricket

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