International Test Cricket

Hafeez steers tie in Pakistan’s favor

hafeez

The Professor turns things around!

Just as everybody expected, an absolutely thrilling series is coming to an incredible conclusion in Sharjah. Pakistan’s Mohammad Hafeez’s outstanding unbeaten knock of 97 has pushed the Third Test’s scorecard back in the favor of the home side who looked to be on the back foot after the second day. The Third Day saw Hafeez cancel out England’s impressive first innings advantage with a brilliant knock, however the visitors did comeback in the last hour, picking up 3 crucial wickets during that period.

James Anderson leap-frogged to the top of the wicket takers list, with a stunning reverse swinger that got Shoaib Malik out lbw on his very first ball. Pakistan found themselves on 105-2 with a lead of 33 runs. Hafeez seemed to be battling it out through the fading light, but Pakistan lost Younis Khan before the day’s play was called off. At the close, Pakistan leaded by 74 runs and given they do make a surplus of 100 plus, the spinners can turn out to be yet another nightmare for Alastair Cook’s men.

In contrast to the pitches of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the Sharjah pitch has hardly offered any comfort for both sets of batsmen. The game is still very close, and it seems as if the slightest lapse of concentration from either side can end up deciding the outcome. England would still very much remember what happened in Dubai. Pakistan are always a dangerous side when defending a target in the final innings, regardless of how big or small it is.

Ben Stokes injury was a total heartbreak for both sets of fans, but his fellow teammates seemed to pick up confidence and pace well after it. The England team hasn’t let lose a sign that they’re a man down, and if they pull of the first ever victory in UAE, it would be a remarkable achievement.

Anderson and Broad were once again outstanding right at the start, giving away just 6 runs in the first 8 overs. However, spinners Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali proved costly, ending the day with combined figures of 90 for no wicket in 27 overs.

Mohammad Hafeez enjoyed a thrilling rise on Day 3, having been given out, while on 2, off an Anderson delivery. The decision was reviewed, and saw Bruce Oxenford’s decision overturned, meaning Hafeez was going nowhere. Younis Khan was not that lucky, after his appeal against an lbw decision of a Stuart Broad delivery stayed intact. His dismissal left Pakistan 3 down at the end of Day’s play.

Another DRS appeal turned down was Patel’s when he appealed a not out lbw decision against Azhar Ali. In that one, the Hawk-Eye technology did suggest that the ball would go on to hit the middle stump, but Azhar was way outside his crease. Because the point of impact was beyond the allowed three meters mark, Patel got a review wasted. Although he supported Hafeez well all along, Azhar looked shaky throughout, having just missed a stumping by Bairstow off an Adil Rashid bowl. Azhar’s nervy self got the better off him, after the Pakistan batsman fell cheaply to a horrible run out, as a result of a miscommunication with Hafeez.

The morning session saw the England team stretching their innings further, with Parel scoring a good knock on his comeback Test. But Pakistan finished off the English batting with a quick barrage of 4 wickets in just 21 runs. Shoaib Malik became the highlight of the Pakistan bowling with his career best figurs of 4 for 33, which also included the all crucial wicket of Moeen Ali. Malik announced his retirement from Test cricket, following close of play.

James Taylor and Bairstow put together a solid 5th wicket knock of 89, which gave the England team the lead in the first half hour. Taylor had his eyes all set on a maiden hundred, but all such hopes were washed down by a testing spell from Rahat Ali, who replaced the injured Imran Khan for this last Test. Taylor looked cautious off Rahat’d deliveries, playing out 2 maiden overs, before eventually nicking the ball back to a diving Sarfraz Ahmed.

Adil Rashid

England held a tender lead of 11 at this point, and the Pakistan bowling lineup would have been looking to run riot on their lower order. But things didn’t turn out that simple for the men in green who saw their attack resisted by an Adil Rashid knock of 40. Rashid was dismissed by Malik, which brought Patel to the crease. Coming at no.7, Patel looked as sound as any England top order batsman would be expected to look. His contribution turned out super precious, and it took a world class delivery from Yasir Shah to get rid of the England batsman.

Anderson was a mere pedestrian, and was knocked out by the opportunistic Malik. That dramatically brought the injured warrior Ben Stokes to the crease. Pakistan skipper Misbah ul Haq remained intact with his ruthless self, bringing on the dangerous Wahab Riaz who did threaten Stokes with a bouncer or two, but the English warrior kept going. Broad added a further 10 to England’s lead, before Stokes was a goner, thanks to another Shoaib Malik ball hitting the off stump.

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