Pakistan vs England 2nd test ready for thrilling finish

Pakistan lost the key wicket to half-centurion Imam-ul-Haq late on the third day to give England renewed hope in Sunday’s second Test cricket.

Pakistan finished the day 198-4 and need another 157 to deny England a second successive win in the three-match series.

England, leading by 79 runs in the first innings, had set up another impressive 355 run target on a deteriorating wicket at Multan Cricket Stadium after being bowled out for 275 runs in the second innings.

The tourists had already successfully defended 342 runs off a flat wicket in the first Test to take a 74-run victory at Rawalpindi in England’s first Test in Pakistan for 17 years.

The left-handed pair of Imam, who made 60, and Saud Shakeel (54 not out) thwarted the England seal and spin for just over 2-1/2 hours and shared a 108-run stand before Imam played a loose drive against Jack Leach and was caught in the slip late in the final session.

The lefthander crouched down in despair before leaving the field as Leach provided the much-needed breakthrough.

Showing guts and determination, both left-handed batters put their feet to good use against England’s spinners until the Imam’s mistake.

England had previously missed an opportunity to sack the imam shortly after he completed his half-century. Television replays showed a small spike on the Imam’s bat as he tried to watch Mark Wood down the leg side delivery and was caught well by Ollie Pope. However, Captain Ben Stokes did not go for the referral.

James Anderson, Oilie Robinson and Wood had stunned Pakistan with a superb display of seam and swing bowling in the middle session, claiming three wickets for 17 runs before Imam and Shakeel dug in to take Pakistan to 136-3 at tea .

Imam didn’t open the innings after feeling discomfort in his right hamstring and went to hospital for MRI scans, but batted at No. 5 without much difficulty, though Will Jacks had a chance to end his innings but failed to make a sharp return could hold. Harry Brook also couldn’t catch a one-handed low catch on the forward short leg when Shakeel was on 4.

Brook had previously hit his second consecutive century, making 108 off 149 balls before England were bowled out for 275 to set up another imposing target in the series.

In Imam’s absence, Abdullah Shafique (45) and Mohammad Rizwan (30) batted fluently, putting in a confident 66 start before the England teammates began to put pressure on the home side after lunch.

Anderson dismissed Rizwan immediately after the break on a ball that left the righthander just enough to hit his stump back. Babar Azam (1) struggled for 10 balls against the seamers before taking no chance on Robinson’s sharp inbound delivery and also being bowled clean.

Switching sides, Wood went through Shafique’s defense with a sharp quick throw as Pakistan fell to 83-3.

Earlier, spinner Abrar Ahmed flourished again and scored a match of 11-234, becoming only the second Pakistani after Mohammad Zahid to take 10 wickets on a test debut. Fast bowler Zahid took 11-130 against New Zealand in Rawalpindi in 1996.

Brook continued his fine form which helped England win the First Test by 74 runs at Rawalpindi where he hit two combative strikes of 153 and 87.

Resuming at 202-5 on Sunday, already 281 runs ahead, Stokes (41) stretched the sixth wicket lead with Brook to 101 runs as England scored at a rapid pace before losing five wickets for just 19 runs.

Brook, 74 overnight, raised his second hundred with a drawn boundary from left arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz before Stokes fell to a brilliant running catch from Mohammad Ali in the middle of the wicket.

Ahmed, who took 7-114 in the first innings, claimed his fourth wicket in the second innings by letting Robinson bowl clean from a googly before legspinner Zahid Mahmood (3-52) took the last two wickets in one shortly after the ahead of England’s 350-run mark.

Brook, hitting 14 fours and a six, was caught in the outfield when he swept Mahmood to a deep square leg and trapped Anderson with his leg in front of the wicket.

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