KARACHI: Harry Brook has emerged as Pakistan’s biggest nemesis in the ongoing Test series and Sunday was no different.
The 23-year-old from Yorkshire hit his third century of the series and in the process broke a few records on the second day of the third and final Test here at the National Stadium. More importantly for England, he kept the tourists in the hunt to become the first visiting team to record a 3-0 Test whitewash on Pakistani soil.
Pakistan had managed to bowl themselves into a position from where they could have taken a shot at their first win in this three-Test series but Brook’s 111 pushed them back, making their task of achieving a face-saving win a lot more difficult.
England were in a tight spot at 145-5 when their skipper Ben Stokes got run out but Brook stood firm like a rock as he played the lead role in a solid 117-run stand for the sixth wicket with wicketkeeper-batsman Ben Foakes.
When Stokes fell, Pakistan, who scored 304 in the first innings, must have been fancying their chances of taking a substantial lead. But it was England who registered a 50-run advantage in the first innings thanks to the Brook-Foakes partnership and a few cameos from tail-enders Mark Wood and Ollie Robinson.
Pakistan’s openers Abdullah Shafiq and Shan Masood had to survive nine overs and they did that comfortably taking the hosts to 21-0 at close of play with Abdullah batting at 14 and Shan at 3.
With three days still to go, there is still more than sufficient time for Pakistan to force a result and end an otherwise dismal series on a winning note. England, meanwhile, would be confident that they can win this one as well despite the fact that the National Stadium wicket is getting slower and a target of even 200 odd runs won’t be an easy one.
Pakistan could have ended the day in a much better position. England began the day at 7-1 as Ben Duckett and Ollie Pope comfortably took them to 58. But spinner Nauman Ali took two wickets on successive deliveries to give Pakistan the upper hand. He trapped Duckett LBW with a sharp, turning delivery. Duckett opted for but it was the umpire's call on line and hitting the stumps.
Joe Root, England’s most seasoned batter joined Pope on the crease but lasted for a single delivery. He nicked it to Agha slip in the slip who took a low catch. England were now 58-3. Pope and Brook started rebuilding the innings before leggie Abrar Ahmed joined the action scalping the former with a beautiful delivery.
Stokes looked good during his 33-ball 26 before getting run out. But Brook and Foakes thwarted Pakistan in an impressive stand. Both of them tackled Pakistan’s attack comfortably as they kept rotating the strike without taking any risks. Pakistan were forced to almost completely rely on the spin duo of Abrar and Nauman. Medium pacer Faheem Ashraf bowled just one over. Debutant Mohammad Waseem Jr didn’t impress much but the pacer finally got Pakistan the breakthrough with a faster one that kept low and broke through Brook’s defences. Brook batted for 210 minutes for his well-crafted 111 from 150 balls. He hit eight fours and three sixes. He has piled up 468 runs in this series so far beating England legend David Gower’s 449 in 1984 for the highest series total by an England batter in Pakistan. He also equalled Mohammad Yousuf’s record of three hundreds in successive matches in an overseas series. Yousuf, who is Pakistan’s batting coach, scored three tons in England in 2006.
“I said to one of my mates I´d like to get two before I got here, so it feels very nice to go one better,” said Brook, who has just played one Test before this series. He has some prior experience of playing here having represented Lahore Qalandars in the Pakistan Super League earlier this year.
Debutant Rehan Ahmed fell to Nauman for just one but Wood (35) and Robinson (29) enabled England to 354, giving their side a slight advantage. Foakes, who became Nauman's fourth wicket, made 64 from 121 balls.
Pakistan, still trailing by 29 runs, will need to put on around 200 more to stay in contention for a victory.
They do not have many bowling options, a fact that was highlighted on Sunday when Nauman (4-126) and Abrar (4-150) bowled 64.4 out of the 81.4 overs in England’s innings.
Pakistan won the toss
Pakistan 1st Innings: 304
England 1st Innings
Zak lbw b Abrar 0
Duckett lbw b Nauman 26
Pope b Abrar 51
Root c Salman b Nauman 0
Brook lbw b Wasim 111
Stokes (c)run out (Azhar/Wasim) 26
Foakes †c Shafique b Nauman 64
Ahmed c Shakeel b Nauman 1
Wood c Shafique b Abrar 35
Robinson b Abrar 29
Leach not out 9
Extras:(nb 1, w 1) 2
Total: 81.4 Ov 354
Fall of wickets: 1-0, 2-58, 3-58, 4-98, 5-145, 6-262, 7-265, 8-316, 9-324, 10-354
Bowling: Abrar 34.4-5-150-4,Nauman 30-1-126-4, Wasim 15-1-71-1, Ashraf 1-0-2-0, Salman 1-0-5-0
Pakistan 2nd Innings
Shafique not out 14
Masood not out 3
Extras: (lb 3, nb 1) 4
Total:9 Ov 21
Yet to bat: Azhar Ali, Babar Azam (c), Mohammad Rizwan †, Agha Salman, Saud Shakeel, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Wasim, Nauman Ali, Abrar Ahmed
Bowling: Leach 5-2-7-0, Root 2-0-9-0, Ahmed 2-1-2-0
Umpires: Joel Wilson, Ahsan Raza
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