LONDON: England finally arrived in the Lord’s Test in the final session of day three as they halted Pakistan’s victory march through a fighting century stand between Jos Butler and Dominic Bess and took the match into the fourth day.
At tea, Pakistan were running away with a victory with England looking down the barrel at 111-6, having lost their captain Joe Root at 110, still 69 away from avoiding an innings defeat but Test cricket comes on display as Pakistan toiled for wickets.
But England fought hard and closed the day at 235 -6 and with a lead of 56 and if they could further take that lead to 150 or 200 it could be a close game on Sunday. A sell out crowd had expected to see England fight back so when it came late in the day, they enjoyed Bess’s fifty on debut and Butler’s resilience. Butler ended with 66 and Bess on 55 with their stand worth 125 golden runs.
Mohammad Amir (2-31 ) produced two beautiful deliveries before tea to give Pakistan a sniff of victory while in between Mohammad Abbas (2-36) had dismissed Alastair Cook for one and Root for a well fought 68 before Pakistan ran into a stubborn seventh-wicket pairing.
Butler’s selection had raised questions as he was purely picked on Indian Premier League form and had failed in the first innings. Here, he not only showed responsibility but together with his Somerset county team-mate Bess ensured England avoid their first innings defeat against an Asian team at Lord’s.
England lost their best batsman of the match Cook in the second over, leg before to Mohammad Abbas before leg-spinner Shadab Khan — given the task to fill in the vacuum created by wily Yasir Shah — bowled Mark Stoneman neck and crop.
From 31-2 Joe Root (68) and Dawid Malan (12) added 60 and it looked England might take the match to the fourth day but Pakistan and Mohammad Amir had other ideas. Amir produced two beautiful deliveries to dismiss Malan and Jonny Bairstow (nought) in an over to change the complexion. Amir shaped one in to get the edge off Malan’s bat which Sarfraz Ahmed took low to his left. A ball later he produced a gem, one that swung late and beat the tentative Baristow’s push to clip the off stump.
Ben Stokes arrived with a huge cheer from a packed Lord’s and with two boundaries hinted he will not let it go that easy. But an innocuous delivery from Shadab had Stokes driving casually and was caught at mid wicket by substitute fielder Fakhar Zaman. England by then had lost the cream of their batting with just Root standing.