England lose openers after Pakistan finish with 179-run lead

Pakistan’s domination continued as they sent back the openers cheaply after finishing with a sizeable lead on Day 3 of the Lord’s Test on Saturday (May 26). Having picked up a 179-run lead, they made inroads through Mohammad Abbas and Shadab Khan to leave England in plenty of trouble at 37 for 2 at the break. The hosts were still 142 shy of making Pakistan bat again, with skipper Joe Root trying to hold the innings together with an unbeaten 22 going into the break.

Abbas varied his lengths to Alastair Cook at the start of the innings, bowling either short of length or full, but made sure to target the stumps. He reaped the reward straightaway as the experienced left-hander was half-forward to a fullish delivery to be trapped in front. Against Mark Stoneman and Root, Abbas bowled mostly outside off on the fourth-fifth stump line, trying to catch the batsmen off guard. Mohammad Amir, on the other hand, tried to use the slop to his advantage and employed different angles.

But the second wicket pair was up to the task, ready to ride the storm out with their guarded approach. Although there was some movement on offer for the bowlers, the warm conditions were ideal for batting and all it required was to play out the new ball and tire the bowlers down. Stoneman did have some problems with the outside-off lines, unsure which way the ball would come and that resulted in a soft edge that landed short of slip and a couple of play and misses too. Root, meanwhile, looked a lot more compact, concentrating on playing close to his body.

Abbas and Amir bowled five overs apiece in their first spell, with the latter coming up with an improved show compared to his first-innings efforts, and they conceded only 19 runs between them. It was only when Faheem Ashraf was introduced into the attack that England got their first boundary with Root getting sufficient room to execute a late cut. But that was the only four conceded in the first 16 overs as Ashraf and Hasan Ali kept things tight and tried to work on the England batsmen’s patience.

It was important for Pakistan to try different things and unsettle the England batsmen who appeared resolute. In that endeavour, Shadab Khan was introduced into the attack and the legspinner found the outside edge of Stoneman’s bat, only to see the ball evade slip and travel to the boundary. However, the rough outside off to the left-hander worked in Pakistan’s favour as the bowler got one to turn sharply and also keep low to beat Stoneman’s defences.

With Abbas’s accuracy, Amir’s variety, Hasan’s pace and Shadab finding assistance from the wicket, Pakistan had the bases covered to dictate terms. The immense pressure on England to stay in the game was evident in the way they went about things. Circumspect batting meant that they not only couldn’t get a move on with the scorecard, but also lost a couple of wickets in the process to add to their woes.

Earlier, with Babar Azam ruled out of the remainder of the series due to a fractured wrist, England effectively had to take one wicket to bowl the visitors out. However, the last-wicket pair of Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Abbas kept the bowlers at bay for a while, managing to add 13 runs in the process to stretch the lead to 179. They were eventually bowled out for 363 with Mark Wood bagging the wicket of Abbas with a short delivery.

Brief scores: England 184 & 37/2 (Joe Root 22*; Shadab Khan 1-6, Mohammad Abbas 1-8) trail Pakistan 363 (Babar Azam 68, Asad Shafiq 59; Ben Stokes 3-73, James Anderson 3-82) by 142 runs.

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