Solid batting throughout the Pakistan lineup gave the visitors a 166-run lead at the close of the second day at the home of cricket.
Starting the day on 50-1, Azhar Ali and Haris Sohail took the score to 87 before Sohail was caught by Jonny Bairstow off Mark Wood’s bowling for 39. Ali was then trapped lbw off Jimmy Anderson for a cautious 50 off 136 balls, which brought Asad Shafiq and Babar Azam together. The pair moved the innings along briskly, adding 84 before Ben Stokes had Shafiq caught by Dawid Malan for 59 off 100 balls.
Stokes struck again three more times, removing captain Sarfraz Ahmed for nine and Shadab Khan
caught behind for a speedy 52 off 85 balls (with six fours). He also sent Azam packing, who this time retired hurt after the 23-year-old (who has yet to score a Test century) had his commanding innings of 68 (119 balls, 1o fours) cut short.
Azam was looking well set for a maiden Test century when a rising delivery from a fired-up Stokes smashed into his left wrist as he tried to duck under a bouncer that failed to deliver on its promise, leaving the batsman potentially sidelined for the rest of the match.
Anderson picked up a second wicket by bowling Faheem Ashraf after a firebrand 37 off 38 balls (seven fours), then following up with the wicket of Hasan Ali for a second-ball duck. Anderson’s three wickets had cost him 82 runs at the close, while Stokes’ three sticks came at a price of 73 runs.
It was not a good day in the field for the England fielders, who grassed four catches – Alastair Cook alone spilling three at first slip in a sloppy display which included Azam getting a let-off with his score on 10.
The only plus side for England was the return to form of Stokes but, with a lead of 166 with two wickets in hand, this Test is fast slipping away from England.
There is still much to play for, and the England lineup has the quality to put together a huge second innings tally that would give them a chance to fight for the match, but a fired-up Pakistan bowling lineup should be well up for the task. Either way, we’re in for a few enthralling days of Test cricket.
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