First Test Day Three: England fight back in the evening after spinners do the damage for Pakistan
Yasir Shah bowls Jos Buttler to take the game away from England

Pakistan came out just on top in the third day at Old Trafford as Yasir Shah and Shadab Khan wreaked havoc in the afternoon session, and England’s first test blues continued.

England fight back after below par batting

They bowled England out for 219 to take a lead of 107 into their second innings, which was extended to 244 by stumps. This was despite England wrestling the game back in the evening session after the Pakistan top order fell cheaply.

Shan Masood was the first to fall, strangled down the leg side by Stuart Broad for a duck after his first innings ton. Not long after, Abid Ali's attempted slog sweep off Dom Bess- a horrible shot selection given the pitch had shown signs of spin all day- landed safely for Chris Woakes at deep mid wicket. It was second time unlucky for the opener, who had ridden his luck when Ben Stokes shelled him diving to his left after Anderson had taken his edge. Stokes eventually made up for that drop as Woakes then found the shoulder of Babar Azam’s bat with a ball that rose off a good length, Stokes diving low to his left to claim it.  

Azhar Ali had looked fairly comfortable for 53 deliveries but the 54th, one on the pads with a hint of reverse from Woakes, trapped him LBW. The captain had played all around it and quickly followed Babar back to the pavilion with the door, firmly shut up until now, suddenly ajar for England.

Asad Shafiq had also looked comfortable- reaching 29 briskly in a handy partnership with Mohammed Rizwan at the other end- before a piece of magic from Dom Sibley saw him off. The pair attempted a quick single but Sibley closed in from point and, off balance, pinged middle stump as Shafiq tried to scramble home. It was a crucial breakthrough for England just as the game looked to be swinging Pakistan’s way again.

What would England do without Stokes?

The runs continued to come for Rizwan though. England, at this point desperate, soon turned to their premier all-rounder - initially selected just as a batsman- who struck in his second over. Continuing the theme of the day, Rizwan had looked good for a punchy 27- taking a liking to Bess in particular- but, like Azhar, played all around a straight one. He reviewed it but Hawkeye showed umpire’s call on hitting the wicket, and once again the game was well and truly in the balance. Carrying on his golden 18 months, Stokes would strike again just before stumps. He bounced out Shaheen Afridi, the ball looping up to Rory Burns at slip; this not before Broad had returned to dismiss the last real threat to England’s bowlers, getting one to tail in to Shadab and having it given out on review.

Spinners give Pakistan huge advantage

It was Pakistan’s spinners who had put the tourists firmly in the driving seat, after the good work of the pace attack on day two. Yasir ended up with figures of four for 66 as he dismissed Jos Buttler, Bess and then Woakes in quick succession after play resumed. Shadab then took the wickets of Jofra Archer and James Anderson to finish off the innings, which was briefly resurrected by an entertaining Stuart Broad cameo.

It followed up a tight morning session where Buttler, alongside Ollie Pope, saw off a probing first hour from the Pakistan pace attack. It was a fantastic spell of bowling from the tourists who gave England barely any loose deliveries, and inducing several loose shots and barely missed edges. Pope in particular rode his luck, inside edging Shaheen as he attempted a cover drive on three occasions. It seemed like the pair would make it through to lunch relatively unscathed, but half an hour before lunch a thunderbolt from Naseem Shah had Pope caught in the slips, a great catch from Shadab bringing an end to his half century.

When Buttler was bowled through the gate by Yasir, playing for more spin than there was, after the lunch break it seemed the end of England’s innings would come sooner rather than later. It was going to take a good ball to get rid of Buttler who looked solid for his 38 and Yasir was using the natural variation off the pitch beautifully. He soon after extracted turn and bounce to take the glove of Bess to the slips, and Woakes was the next man to be undone by Yasir’s craft. A straight and quick delivery bowled him as he attempted a pull shot- he had looked good for his 19 but the end was nigh at this point for England.

Tail take England to a respectable score

By this point it was Broad and Archer at the crease, and the pair put on a useful partnership of 27 to take England near 200- but Shadab ended Archer’s stay at the crease, finding the glove through to Rizwan in a similar fashion to how Bess was dismissed. Broad ended up unbeaten on 29, which included three fours in a row off Shaheen and a huge six off Yasir, before Anderson fell for just 11.

Pakistan were in the driving seat at this point, but England have given themselves half a chance with just two wickets left to take before they bat again. But hen they do start their second innings it will be on a pitch they were bowled out cheaply on less than a day before, against a potent attack; the momentum is still just about with Pakistan.

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