Pakistan 273 (Azhar 141, Rizwan 53, Anderson 5-56) trail England 583 for 8 declared by 310 runs
James Anderson’s 29th five-wicket haul in Test cricket enabled England to enforce the follow-on at the Ageas Bowl, despite Azhar Ali holding Pakistan together thanks to his second hundred as captain.
Anderson took the first and last wickets of the day after three breakthroughs on the second evening, taking his tally to 598 across his Test career. He removed Asad Shafiq 12 balls into the day, leaving Pakistan reeling at 30 for 4, before eventually dismissing last man Naseem Shah to finish with figures of 5 for 56.
That Pakistan’s innings lasted as long as it did owed much to Azhar, whose hundred his was his first away from home since Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan’s joint retirements in 2017. He scored the bulk of his runs behind square, pulling and flicking off the pads when England erred too straight and cutting and steering behind point when they when they went short. With Mohammad Rizwan for support, he guided Pakistan towards the second new ball with a dogged innings, but was eventually left stranded, unbeaten on 141.
In a morning session that was again abbreviated by the rain, Anderson added his fourth wicket of the innings, removing Shafiq in his first full over of the day. Shafiq lunged forwardly hopefully at a length ball in the channel, only managing to edge into the slips, and has scored just 46 runs in four innings this series; his run of 72 consecutive Tests might soon come under threat.
That gave Fawad Alam an opportunity to bed in after lunch, after nudging Anderson into the off side to score his first Test run in 11 years. He edged Chris Woakes through the slips early on, but started to knuckle down alongside Azhar to lead Pakistan’s recovery. Frustratingly for him, he fell tamely after making a start, offering Jos Buttler a sharp chance behind the stumps after being drawn forward by Dom Bess.
Bess quickly found his groove after going unused across the whole of the second Test, settling into a rhythm as Rizwan looked to rebuild alongside Azhar, who survived an England review for caught behind after copping a short ball on the right shoulder. He then ticked past the 6000-run mark in Tests, becoming the fifth Pakistani batsman to reach the landmark as he steered Archer through backward point.
Rizwan was busy throughout, despite an early blow on the helmet from Archer, and the pair put on Pakistan’s highest partnership of the series against the old ball. Azhar was particularly strong off his pads, but his off-side game improved as his innings progressed. Archer reverted to short-ball theory with the new ball imminent, but it was Woakes who made the breakthrough thanks to a strangle down the leg side, Buttler again taking a sharp diving catch to remove Rizwan.
The timing of the wicket was particularly vital for England, as it meant Pakistan’s bowlers were exposed to the new ball. Broad, who has been brutally effective with the second new ball throughout the summer, struck with it immediately as Root clung onto a sharp chance from a loose push from Yasir Shah.
He had a second not long after, as Buttler – who had struggled so much with the gloves throughout the summer before this Test – took a blinding catch off Shaheen Afridi, leaping at full stretch to his right as the tailender looked to fend away a short ball.
That left Pakistan clinging on eight wickets down, at which point things became calamitous for Anderson in his attempts to secure a five-for.
He had two chances put down in the slips in the 87th over – Azhar dropped by Burns at second slip, Mohammad Abbas shelled at third by Zak Crawley two balls later – and then Broad made a mess of the most straightforward of the lot, Azhar miscuing to him at mid-on. Broad recovered in time to shy at the striker’s end and run Abbas out with a direct hit, but that did little to lift Anderson’s spirits, not least with Azhar sticking around alongside last man Naseem.
Anderson barely allowed himself a smile when he eventually broke the partnership, Dom Sibley clinging onto a chance at third slip after he drew an edge from Naseem, taking him to 598.
There was never any question as to whether England would enforce the follow-on, but just as things were about to get underway soon after 7pm, the umpires decided that the light was too poor for play to continue. Azhar had moved himself up to open, hoping to carry on from where he had left off, but was denied the opportunity to do so.
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