England captain Alastair Cook and Alex Hales’s first century stand as an opening pair left the third Test against Pakistan at Edgbaston intriguingly poised come the close of third day. At stumps, England were 120 without loss in their second innings, a lead of 17 runs. Cook was 64 not out and Hales 50 not out, with two days left in the match.
It was the first time in 18 innings as a Test opening pair the duo had posted a century partnership.
England were 103 runs behind on first innings after more than 10 hours in the field.
Yet Hales was soon into his stride with a cover-driven four off left-arm quick Mohammad Amir.
Meanwhile Cook took advantage of width from Sohail Khan with two square-cut boundaries in three balls.
Cook completed a brisk fifty in 67 balls when Rahat Ali’s misfield at mid-on saw a drive by the left-hander go for his fifth four of the innings.
Hales took England into the lead with an elegant back-foot forcing shot through the covers off Sohail, who had marked his return to Test cricket by taking five for 96 in the hosts’ first innings.
And the last delivery of the day saw Hales complete a 116-ball fifty with a single off the tiring Sohail.
Pakistan were bowled out for 400 in reply to England’s first innings 297 on the stroke of tea.
After Azhar Ali, whose 139 was his first Test century outside of Asia, and recalled 20-year-old opener Sami Aslam (82) put on 181 for the second wicket Thursday, Pakistan saw skipper Misbah-ul-Haq (56) and wicket-keeper Sarfraz Ahmed (46 not out) frustrate England on Friday.
Chris Woakes, in the all-rounder’s first Test match on his Warwickshire home ground, led England’s attack with three for 79, while fellow paceman Stuart Broad took three for 83.
Pakistan resumed on 257 for three after Azhar had been dismissed off the last ball of Thursday’s play.
Younis Khan (21 not out) was joined in the middle by fellow veteran Misbah.
Woakes, who had dismissed Azhar, struck again when he had Younis caught behind for 31 glancing down the legside. It took the patient Misbah 40 balls to score his first boundary today.
But he broke the drought with two boundaries in three balls off Broad, courtesy of a pair of well-struck drives, one through the covers and the other down the ground.
Broad though found his range when a full-length delivery smashed into Asad Shafiq’s off stump for an 18-ball nought to leave Pakistan 296 for five, still one run behind. Misbah’s single to third man off Broad saw Pakistan into the lead.