ENG v PAK, 3rd Test Review: England stage a superb comeback to take a 2-1 lead in the series

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England players form a group huddle on the pitch after taking the final wicket. (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Pakistan being Pakistan let England stage a remarkable comeback in the 3rd Test at Edgbaston after conceding a first inning lead of over hundred runs to win the game by 141 runs. After 4 days of play, the match looked pale enough to end in a draw with no real movement on offer for the faster bowlers and no notable turn for the tweakers either. The character Pakistan had shown in the first inning also suggested they would play out the final day.

England came out to bat on day 5 with Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali both well set with fifty plus overnight scores but as soon as Bairstow was dismissed by Sohail Khan in the 127th over of the inning Alastair Cook declared and England ended the second inning on 445/6. Pakistan were asked to chase down 343 runs to win. After the customary early wicket of Mohammad Hafeez, their new opener Sami Aslam and no.3 Azhar Ali got in and played beautifully. They not only denied England any further success early on in the inning but also played some positive cricket.

Ali was scalped by the Ali from the opposition. He was attracted forward to a Moeen Ali delivery but all he managed to do was edge it to Cook at second slip. Meanwhile, Sami continued to impress with yet another half-century. He matched his 82 from the first inning with a 70 in the second. But he shoulder armed a Steve Finn delivery which reversed and moved in just enough to clip the top of his off-stump.

Sami didn’t have a stable partner at the other end after losing Azhar Ali as Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq and Asad Shafiq returned one after the other falling to the lateral movement the English pacers were able to extract. Floodgates opened after as the ball started to reverse swing in the post Lunch session. James Anderson was at his best and so was Chris Woakes. Steve Finn also returned with a couple of wickets when the skipper threw the ball towards him. One after the other all the Pakistani batsmen walked their way back to the pavilion and England marched towards a superb win.

But it didn’t end as soon as England would have liked. The last wicket pair of Sohail Khan and Rahat Ali hung in there. They defended when it mattered and also swung the bat, the customary tailenders thing. Cook had all the men in and around the bat and that helped the 11th wicket partners to get some boundaries though most via edges. They soon completed the 50-run partnership and England would have started to worry just a bit when they went into the drinks break but soon after Moeen Ali tossed one up and Sohail jumped down to hit it right back over the bowler but hit it hard back towards Ali and he completed a gleeful return catch to win the game for England.

Cook was superb with his captaincy placing fielders where it mattered. Every bowler he handed the ball to got him at least a wicket if not a couple. He had the right pair of hands at the spot to grab every opportunity on offer. Be it standing a couple of yards forward in the slips to do away the lack of bounce or positioning Woakes at short point against Mohammad Amir he got it all right. The luxury of having five specialist bowlers also helped him keep the hunt for the wickets on and there was no slag once they went for the kill.

The celebration they broke into after the win showed how much it mattered to the home team. They finally have a lead in the series after being pushed 1-0 down to start with. The teams will now head to the Kennington Oval, London where the outcome of this thrilling series will be decided.

Brief Scores:

England, 1st innings: 297 all out (G Ballance 70; Sohail 5/96)

Pakistan, 1st innings: 400 all out (Azhar 139; S Broad 3/83)

England, 2nd innings: 445/6 (Moeen Ali 86; M Amir 2/75)

Pakistan, 2nd innings: 201 all out (S Aslam 70; Broad 2/24)

Man of the match: Moeen Ali

Also read – ENG v PAK, 3rd Test, Day 1 Review: Sohail Khan puts Pakistan ahead
Also read – ENG v PAK, 2nd Test Day 2 Review: Pakistan wrest control
Also read – ENG v PAK, 3rd Test Day 3 Review: Cook, Hales give firm reply as England regain control
Also read – ENG v PAK, 3rd Test Day 4 Review: England piles on the runs

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