England will need quick wickets on day four if they are to salvage the series against Pakistan in Sharjah.
Down 1-0 in the series, this third Test in finely balanced with Pakistan on 146-3 at the close of day three on Tuesday, a lead of 74 runs. Their fightback, after being dismissed for 234 on day one began early on day three when they ran through the England middle order.
England had resumed play on 222-4, with James Taylor looking comfortable on 74 and Jonny Bairstow on 37, in a partnership worth 83. But four overs into the day, Taylor stretched to a ball angled across him by Rahat Ali to be well taken behind. Seven overs later, Bairtstow was following him to the pavilion, beaten by pace by Zulfiqar Barbar for 43.
Samit Patel put up stiff resistance until he was bowled by an absolutely stunning delivery from leg-spinner Yasir Shah, a ball compared to Shane Warne’s Ball of the Century which did for Mike Gatting. He was gone for 42, taking with him England’s hopes of building a substantial lead.
Mohammad Hafeez led the way with a classy, unbeaten 97 to bring Pakistan back into the match. He and Azhar Ali (34) wiped out the deficit with a stand of 101, when Ali was ludicrously run out, and England showed they still had some fight with two more wickets in the last hour.
James Anderson trapped Shoaib Malik lbw first ball with a wicked reverse-swinging delivery, returning him to the top of the wicket-takers’ list for the series, and Younis Khan followed lbw as the light faded.
Hafeez looked settled and the ineffectiveness of England’s spinners will give Alastair Cook an uneasy night.