MANCHESTER: England lost a flurry of wickets as they chased 277 for victory over Pakistan on day four of the first Test on Saturday, but Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes launched a counter-attack before tea to leave the game thrillingly poised.
The hosts slumped from 86-1 to 117-5 as some superb bowling gave Pakistan a stranglehold midway through the afternoon, but Buttler and Woakes then put on 50 in 49 balls to accelerate the score to 167-5.
England still require 110 runs to record the second-highest successful fourth innings chase ever at Old Trafford.
Pakistan began the day on 137-8 in their second innings but blazed another 32 runs to be all out for 169, setting England a tough target on a pitch offering pace, bounce and spin.
Mohammad Abbas trapped opener Rory Burns lbw for 10 early on, and England crept up to 55-1 at lunch before skipper Joe Root and Dom Sibley dug in to give England a solid platform.
Sibley showed great patience in reaching 36 but paid the price for a rash shot when he edged an attempted drive off leg spinner Yasir Shah and was taken by Asad Shafiq at slip.
Root swept to 42 but just when he looked set for a big score he fell to a superbly directed delivery from teenager Naseem Shah, the ball catching the splice of the bat and being held by Babar Azam at first slip.
It looked even better for Pakistan when Yasir spun one out of the rough to have Ben Stokes caught behind the stumps by Mohammad Rizwan after England’s dangerman was initially given not out by the on-field umpire.
Stokes had guided England to an astounding one-wicket win over Australia from a seemingly hopeless position with a brilliant century in the third Ashes Test last year, but here he failed twice, getting a duck and 4.
It needed a Pakistan review to confirm Stokes’ dismissal — a bold decision by captain Azhar Ali after the tourists had squandered a review against Stokes moments earlier.
Ollie Pope could do nothing about his dismissal as Shaheen Afridi produced an unplayable ball that rose sharply off a length, caught his glove and looped up to Shadab Khan at gully.
England were in a hole, but Buttler and Woakes went into one-day mode and began to pepper the boundaries, setting up what could be a thrilling final session of the day.
While Pakistan remain the favourites, England still have a chance of the highest successful run chase at Old Trafford since they made 294 to beat New Zealand in 2008.
Only twice has a team chased more than 200 to win in the fourth innings here with England reaching 231-3 against the West Indies in 2004.
Earlier, Yasir led a tailend rally that saw 32 runs added in just 16 balls before his team were dismissed. He struck a quickfire 33 off 24 balls that included consecutive boundaries off fast bowler Jofra Archer and a six off Stuart Broad.
in the post=tea session on Friday, Woakes (2-11) got among the wickets early, picking up Azhar (18) and dangerman Babar (5), but was only used for five overs in the second innings by Root.
Stokes, who did not bowl in the first innings with a quad injury, dismissed Rizwan (27) in what was an important breakthrough late on.
PAKISTAN (1st Innings) 326 (Shan Masood 156, Babar Azam 69, Shadab Khan 45; S.C.J. Broad 3-54, J.C. Archer 3-59).
ENGLAND (1st Innings) 219 (O.J. Pope 62; Yasir Shah 4-66).
PAKISTAN (2nd Innings, overnight 137-8):
Shan Masood c Buttler b Broad 0
Abid Ali c Woakes b Bess 20
Azhar Ali lbw b Woakes 18
Babar Azam c Stokes b Woakes 5
Asad Shafiq run out 29
Mohammad Rizwan lbw b Stokes 27
Shadab Khan lbw b Broad 15
Yasir Shah c Buttler b Broad 33
Shaheen Shah Afridi c Burns b Stokes 2
Mohammad Abbas not out 3
Naseem Shah b Archer 4
EXTRAS (B-8, LB-1, NB-4) 13
TOTAL (all out, 46.4 overs) 169
FALL OF WKTS: 1-6, 2-33, 3-48, 4-63, 5-101, 6-120, 7-122, 8-137, 9-158.
BOWLING: Anderson 9-2-34-0 (1nb); Broad 10-3-37-3 (1nb); Archer 6.4-0-27-1 (1nb); Bess 12-2-40-1; Woakes 5-1-11-2; Stokes 4-1-11-2 (1nb).
ENGLAND (2nd Innings):
R.J. Burns lbw b Abbas 10
D.P. Sibley c Asad b Yasir 36
J.E. Root c Babar b Naseem 42
B.A. Stokes c Rizwan b Yasir 9
O.J. Pope c Shadab b Shaheen 7
J.C, Buttler not out 32
C.R. Woakes not out 26
EXTRAS (LB-2, NB-3) 5
TOTAL (for five wkts, 53 overs) 167
FALL OF WKTS: 1-22, 2-86, 3-96, 4-106, 5-117.
BOWLING (to-date): Shaheen Shah Afridi 10-1-38-1 (2nb); Mohammad Abbas 11-4-23-1 (1nb); Naseem Shah 10-4-24-1; Yasir Shah 20-2-74-2; Shadab Khan 2-0-6-0.
Published in Dawn, August 9th, 2020