Pakistan take control of England on third afternoon of first Test
Yasir Shah took three wickets in the hour after lunch as Pakistan strengthened their hold on the first Test against England.
Ollie Pope made a hard-fought 62 and Jos Buttler weathered an intense examination on the third morning at Old Trafford as the hosts reached lunch on 159 for five, still 167 behind but considerably better placed than they might have been considering they faced some high-calibre bowling.
But leg-spinner Yasir turned the screw after the resumption as Buttler, Chris Woakes and Dom Bess departed in the space of nine overs.
Pope had been the home side’s shining light as they slumped to 92 for four on day two, scoring exactly half of the runs to sit on 46 not out overnight.
He successfully clocked up his fifth half-century but was caught on the wrong side of a one-sided burst that saw him and Buttler, who took 26 deliveries to add to his overnight score of 15, boxed in by a brilliant three-pronged pace attack.
Just nine runs came off the bat in the first hour, alongside 10 extras, with both batsmen playing and missing regularly. Pope almost diverted Shaheen Afridi into his stumps early in the session and Buttler edged just short of second slip when he flashed at Naseem Shah’s third ball.
Naseem then arrived to cause Pope a host of problems, while Mohammad Abbas came agonisingly close to taking Buttler’s edge on at least three occasions.
The drinks break seemed to revitalise England, Buttler collecting the first four of the day with a punch through cover and Pope smashing a rare loose one from Abbas.
Tentatively, the fifth-wicket stand crept up to 65, every run hard earned, before Naseem produced a beauty to claim his deserved reward.
Pope was basically blameless, reeling back and fending to gully off the splice after the teenager got one to kick viciously off the surface. New man Woakes received a fiery welcome, banged on the side of the helmet third ball by Naseem, but kept enough focus to pick up boundaries off Shaheen either side of a momentary rain break.
Buttler confirmed his growing comfort when he stroked Shaheen through extra-cover just before the interval, taking his side’s final tally to 67 runs in the session.
Having worked so hard to shore up their position, though, England suffered a hammer blow eight balls into the afternoon’s play.
After his lengthy battle against the pacemen Buttler was undone by spin, Yasir sneaking one into a gap between bat and pad and flicking the top of off stump.
Yasir grabbed his third of the innings to press home the advantage, making short work of Dom Bess for one.
The ball gripped and turned, taking the shoulder of the bat and spraying to Asad Shafiq, who anticipated the chance and held on well to make it 161 for seven.
Yasir was having fun with England now and soon added Woakes to his list of victims, parting the stumps as a misguided heave to leg connected with fresh air.
Jofra Archer and Stuart Broad added 27 before Archer gloved Shadab Khan to keeper Mohammad Rizwan to leave England 197 for nine.