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Openers help Pakistan erode England’s lead

Openers help Pakistan erode England’s lead

REUTERS – England claimed a 72-run first innings lead to push for a series-levelling victory but Pakistan rode a strong start from their openers to reach 58 for no loss at tea on day three of the third and final test on Tuesday.

The touring side, who trail the three-match series 1-0, were all out for 306 soon after lunch.

For England, Jonny Bairstow (43) and Samit Patel (42) contributed useful cameos, while Ben Stokes came out to bat despite a broken collarbone before being the last man out soon after the lunch break.

Mohammad Hafeez (33) and Azhar Ali (24) survived some anxious moments but stayed put as Pakistan finished the second session 14 runs behind their opponents with 10 second wickets in hand.

Hafeez, then on two, was given out caught behind off James Anderson but the opener imemdiately reviewed the decision and got it overturned.

After adding nine more runs to his score, the right-hander edged Moeen Ali but wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow could not pouch the deflection.

Azhar survived a strong leg-before appeal against Samit Patel, even though replays suggested the delivery that the batsman met far down the pitch, would have gone on to hit the middle stump.

Earlier, England lost three wickets on the third morning of the test after resuming on 222-4.

The visitors’ hopes of forging a big first innings advantage on the Sharjah Cricket Stadium’s slow surface suffered a double blow when they lost both their overnight batsmen early.

James Taylor (76) added just two runs to his total before he edged left-arm paceman Rahat Ali behind for wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed to complete a low one-handed diving catch to his right.

Taylor’s dismissal ended a resolute stand of 89, which propped up England after they had been reduced to 139-4 on Monday.

Bairstow soon followed Taylor back to the pavilion after he failed to read an arm ball from left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar and was bowled.

Patel (42), who passed his previous test best score of 33, and Adil Rashid offered some resistance, forcing rival captain Misbah-ul-Haq to call on his part-time off-spinner Shoaib Malik.

The spinner repaid his captain’s trust by dismissing Rashid in his second over of the day with Azhar Ali completing a sharp, low catch at short leg.

Malik went on to dismiss Anderson and Stokes to claim his test best figures of 4-33.

England are already one bowler short with England and Wales Cricket Board announcing Stokes would not roll his arms over in the match.

“His injury will be reviewed in seven to 10 days once it has had a chance to settle. A decision about his return to play will be taken at this time,” the ECB said in a statement.

(Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)

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