Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali scored dashing fifties as England wrested the initiative from Pakistan on the fourth evening of the third Test at Edgbaston on Saturday (August 6).
At stumps, England were 414 for 5 in their second innings, a lead of 311 runs, after Pakistan finished on 400 in reply to the 297 England scored in their first innings. Bairstow was 82 not out and Ali 60 not out at close of play. England’s sixth-wicket duo had added an unbroken 132 runs inside 27 overs ahead of Monday’s final day.
Pakistan now have to set a new record for the Birmingham ground if they are to go 2-1 up in the four-match series, as the most any side has made in the fourth innings to win a Test at Edgbaston is 283 for 5, which South Africa achieved in 2008.
England had been well-placed at 120 without loss overnight.
But Alastair Cook and Alex Hales both fell early on Saturday as Pakistan took two wickets for no runs in nine balls.
Joe Root (62) and James Vince (42) stopped the rot during a third-wicket stand of 95.
But their run-rate slowed to barely three an over, albeit in the face of sometimes overly-defensive Pakistan field settings.
Yasir Shah struck either side of tea to dismiss Root and Gary Ballance.
But Bairstow, in at 257 for 4, scored briskly. Bairstow received excellent support from Moeen, who played several fine shots against a tiring Pakistan attack featuring just four frontline bowlers.
Play resumed Saturday with Cook 64 not out and Hales 50 not out after they had erased a first-innings deficit of 103 with their maiden century stand in 18 innings as a Test-match opening pair.
But Pakistan soon removed both batsmen. Cook (66) pushed out to first-innings five-wicket hero Sohail Khan and a diving Yasir held an excellent catch at point. Mohammad Amir then turned 126 for 1 into 126 for 2 when Hales (54) edged a seaming delivery and Younis Khan held a difficult low chance at second slip.
Root, who made a Test-best 254 in England’s 330-run series-levelling win at Old Trafford, struck two superb fours off Sohail – a back-foot force followed by a cover drive. Root, though, had a reprieve on 25 when he edged Rahat Ali only for Mohammad Hafeez to drop the low, two-handed, chance at first slip.
After lunch, Root pulled Yasir for a boundary that took him to a 108-ball fifty.
But Yasir, bowling into the rough outside leg stump, had his revenge when Root, not for the first time this season, mistimed a sweep and gave a simple catch to Hafeez at short fine-leg.
Vince, yet to make a fifty in nine Test innings, had been composed in equalling his highest score at this level of 42. But he too fell when, flirting outside off stump against the new ball, he wastefully guided Amir to second slip Younis.
England, 262 for 4 at tea, lost Ballance (28) on 285 when Yasir, bowling round the wicket, had him well caught by leg slip Asad Shafiq off a genuine glance.
But Moeen cover drove Yasir for four and, two balls later, whipped him for another four wide of mid-on. Bairstow clipped Sohail off his pads and swept Yasir for two well-struck fours on his way to a 69-ball fifty.
Moeen, to chants of ‘Moeen, Moeen Ali’ from a crowd of more than 15,500, followed Bairstow to the landmark in 64 balls. Bairstow then extended England’s lead beyond 300 when he swept part-time spinner Azhar Ali to the fine leg boundary.