Close contest poised for a thrilling end A SELL-OUT crowd of well over 25.000 people at Edgbaston couldn’t have asked for more than what they experienced on the third day, absorbing, intense and entertaining cricket.
In the first period of play Pakistan batsmen stuck it out to take a crucial lead of 103. In the last session, however, England had wrested the initiative by wiping off the visitors’ lead without losing a wicket.
Earlier, Pakistan after having lost two quick wickets in the morning, had put the shutters down to repair the damage.The failure of senior pro Younis Khan to play himself back into the groove, and Asad Shafiq’s dismissal without scoring no doubt gave Pakistan a scare because of its long tail. But it was once again the Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq who came to the rescue to lift his team’s sagging spirits and stood up to the challenge to provide the innings a direction from where a lead could be achieved.
He frustrated the English bowlers to a point from where it became a hard grind for them to restrict Pakistan. More so because Sarfraz Ahmed, a reliable late order batsman, also got into the swing of things to play handsomely and share a 62-run stand for the sixth wicket with his captain.
As the contest warmed up and frustration mounted for the England bowlers, their star bowler James Anderson had to be taken off the attack because he frequently ran on to the business area of the pitch, violating the prescribed rules of the game.
That indeed took Pakistan to where they were aiming for, a lead of at least hundred runs that gave them a chance to put England under pressure for a second time in this Test.
The pitch till the third afternoon had not changed in its nature nor in its pace or bounce and appeared nice and friendly.
But foot marks had developed on both sides of the pitch which one thought could be of concern for the England batsmen. However, they countered little trouble and went along merrily in the second innings.
Cricket played by both the teams in the last three days have been of the highest class and as intense as it could be. The potential winner of the this in the end will be the one who could hold the nerve to get the better of the other.
But all said and done, for Pakistan to come strongly back into this game after a heart-breaking defeat at Old Trafford is no mean feat. For them to keep their chances alive in this nerve-tickling series it is important that they display strong temperament and rise above their normal self to walk out from here with honour.