Pakistan ‘s captain Azhar has defeated England in the third test
Pakistan’s captain, Azhar Ali, held England at bay with an undefeated 82 in the third test at Southampton. At tea on the third day Pakistan was 158-5—still a huge 425 runs behind England’s gigantic first innings 583-8 declared.
But Azhar, who had just produced 38 runs in the last three innings of this match, was in range of a hundred, having only became the fifth Pakistani batsman to have scored 6,000 test runs. Together with wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan (22 not out) he shared an unbroken stand of 83 after Pakistan slumped to 75-5.
The pair has thwarted England’s great James Anderson’s charge of being the first pacemaker to take 600 test wickets. It looked like the 38-year-old was well on his way with superb lunch figures of 4-21 out of 11 overs, bringing him to 597 test wickets and leaving Pakistan in a desperate 41-4 spot. Yet Pakistan struck back by collecting 117 runs to lose just Fawad Alam in Sunday’s second game.
In his 81st game at this stage, 35-year-old Azhar entered an elite Pakistani party comprising Younis Khan, the new batting coach, Javed Miandad, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Yousuf, to cross the 6,000 test runs milestone. England, pushing for the first series victory over Pakistan in a decade of 1-0 in a three-game bid, regained overall dominance with the visitors 24-3. Three former spinners — Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan (800), Australia’s Shane Warne (708) and India’s Anil Kumble (619)—are the only bowlers to have taken 600 wickets in Tests.
England figured that on the 21st, Azhar had captured a terrifying 91 mph ball from Jofra Archer, a fast bowler that climbed steeply. Yet the ombudsman Richard Illingworth’s ruling was not followed after the appeal showed that the ball had hit Azhar ‘s shoulder — a move that indicated that England had used all three of their challenges in the game.
There was little need for innovations as Alam, whose almost 11-year wait for a match recall ended with a four-ball duck in the second test at Southampton, dropped for 21. The left-hander, a distinctive presence on the crease due to his wide open posture, lunged out to the off-spinner Dom Bess, with wicketkeeper Jos Buttler keeping a firm grasp on the shoulder of the bat.
It was a heartening wicket for Bess in the season when circumstances favoured the seam bowlers and the much-needed dismissal of Buttler, fresh from his 152 series in England, after several under-standard displays behind the stumps. Pakistan was now 75-5, but Azhar sliced Archer off his pads for four to go to 6,000 test runs, and a close boundary gave the under-pressure skipper a 137-ball 50.