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Zak Crawley scores double century before Anderson rattles Pakistan –



The Cricket Times

After an enthralling couple of days of Test cricket, England’s all-round dominance in the field makes them a favourite to make the scoreline 2-0 at The Ageas Bowl in Southampton.

Zak Crawley made a mighty 267, and Jos Buttler piled up his career-best 152 before three early wickets from the masterful James Anderson left Pakistan gasping for breath at 24/3 at the end of Day 2 of the third Test.

It was a riveting day of Test cricket that couldn’t get any better for the home side and any worse for the tourists. Crawley and Buttler initiated the proceedings on Day 2 exactly where they left-off a day back.

With an astounding 359-runs stand, the duo etched their names in the record book after registering the highest ever fifth-wicket partnership for England.

Crawley also became the youngest ever to score a double ton for England in the 21st century, before he fell to Asad Shafiq.

For Pakistan, it took around 100 overs of the play, leaking over 350 runs in the process, and the ball travelling miles outside the leg-stump from a part-timer Shafiq to dismiss Crawley.

Or if one considers the manner of the dismissal, it was a wicket well gifted by the batsman himself, not really the one Pakistani bowler earned.

And the same goes for Buttler, who scored 152 before scripting his downfall off an innocuous delivery from Fawad Alam. The left-arm spinner later dismissed Chris Woakes on 40.

For Buttler, the innings was a masterclass of patience, persistence and indefatigability, some of the virtues no one generally associated with the English wicket-keeper.

A career-best knock of 152, apart from propelling England to the driving seat, also ensured that Ben Foakes would have to wait a little longer to gatecrash this English side.

It was a long, gruelling day of cricket for the visitors where nothing went their way. The wickets came in the last session, but it was a tad too late. Damage had already been done by then.

As good and promising the pace troika of Pakistan is, they missed someone who would make things happen. Something that Ben Stokes does for England or that Neil Wagner for New Zealand. And Pakistan can’t expect this from the 20-year-old Afridi or 17-year-old Naseem. It goes without saying that both of them are most efficient while doing a short burst of a spell.

After Buttler paved his way towards the pavilion, England’s tail-enders too decided to join the chorus and callously rubbed salt on the wounds of an already deflated Pakistan.

Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad and Dom Bess, all of them played handy knocks lower down the order to compound Pakistan’s misery further.

England’s captain Joe Root decided to declare the innings at 583/8 after Broad fell prey to a toe-crushing yorker from Afridi.

It is never an easy task for any batsmen to come out and play a shiny Dukes’ ball in English condition after toiling fruitlessly in the field for the whole day. Perhaps, this was the reason Root kept on delaying the declaration. The England captain declared only after sensing the tiredness in visitors’ every sinew of their muscles.

As stated, Pakistan wouldn’t have imagined a worse start as they lost Shan Masood, Abid Ali and Babar Azam inside 30 runs. Anderson, the 38-year old enigma, picked all three wickets.

For Pakistan, the match does not even look about mere survival. Instead, it’s about how long Pakistan survive the English speedsters, and how long they stretch a match that has already been lost inside two days. From this point, as Pakistan resumes Day 3 with the scoreboard flashing at 24/3, their only hope is the father Zeus – the Greek god of clouds, weather and rain.

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