SHARJAH, United Arab Emirates: Opening batsman Mohammad Hafeez closed in on a century to give Pakistan a 74 runs lead over England at the close of play on day three of the third and final test on Tuesday.
Pakistan finished on 146-3 with Hafeez unbeaten on 97 but not before successfully using a television review to overturn being caught behind early on when he was on 2. He was later dropped on 11 by wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow who couldn’t hold onto a sharp edge.
Hafeez and Azhar Ali wiped out the first innings deficit of 72 runs with a solid opening wicket stand of 101 runs after England was bowled out for 306.
England hit back when Ali was run out in a mixup with Hafeez before James Anderson had Shoaib Malik lbw for a duck and Younis Khan (14) was also adjudged lbw while offering no shot to Stuart Broad late in the last session.
Hafeez hit nine fours and three sixes in his 155-ball knock and remained assured despite two close escapes early in his knock.
He twice lofted Patel and Ali for sixes and raised his half century off 104 balls by cutting Samit Patel to point boundary for a four.
Ali didn’t hit a boundary in his innings but kept rotating the strike as Hafeez made batting look easy on a wicket which had plenty of turn on offer for spinners.
Earlier, Patel led England’s resistance with a fluent 42 before England was bowled out midway into the second session.
Off-spinner Malik, returning for the test matches in this series after five years, had career-best figures of 4-33 while leg-spinner Yasir Shah returned with 3-99.
Resuming at 222-4, England lost overnight batsmen James Taylor (76) and Bairstow (43) in quick succession before Patel hit six fours and moved England ahead of Pakistan first innings effort of 234.
In his comeback match after three years, Taylor had provided England an invaluable 89-run fifth-wicket stand with Bairstow, hitting six boundaries in a 161-ball knock that spanned over three-and-a-half hours.
But after resuming on Tuesday, he added only 2 to his overnight 74 before wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed took another brilliant low catch off left-arm fast bowler Rahat Ali.
Bairstow was then clean bowled by Babar for 43, giving the left-arm spinner his first wicket in 31 overs.
By then it was still uncertain if Stokes would bat for England after falling awkwardly and damaging his right shoulder while attempting to catch Ahmed on Sunday.
Scans revealed the allrounder has a collar bone joint injury and the England and Wales Cricket Board said in a statement that he will be unable to bowl or field the remainder of the test match, but he may bat if needed.
Stokes did spent a discomforting 10 minutes as No. 11 batsman before Malik wrapped up the innings to better his previous best figures of 4-94 against South Africa at Lahore 12 years ago.