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Game on in Rawalpindi as Pakistan need another 263 runs for victory

Rawalpindi, 4 December 2022: Pakistan were pressing for victory in the first Test in Rawalpindi when they reached 80 for two after being set a 343-run target on the fourth day on Sunday.

Pakistan lost Abdullah Shafique (six) and skipper Babar Azam (four) in their second innings as they slipped to 25 for two before Imam-ul-Haq (43) and Saud Shakeel (24) switched an unbroken 55-run partnership for the third wicket to keep Pakistan’s spirits high. When play will resume on Monday, Pakistan will require 263 to go one-up, while England will hunt for the remaining eight Pakistan wickets.

Ollie Robinson bounced out Abdullah and two balls later, forced Azhar Ali to retire hurt after the former Pakistan captain was hit on the right index finger off a sharp and rising delivery. Azhar is expected to bat on Monday, if required.

Next over, sixth of Pakistan’s innings, Ben Stokes got the prized wicket of Pakistan skipper Azam by forcing an edge off a rising delivery that landed safely in keeper Ollie Pope's hands -- shocking the holiday crowd of 14,200.

But Imam – who also scored a century in the first innings –steadied the ship with Shakeel with a 55-run third-wicket stand.

Earlier, Harry Brook struck a fiery 87 as England batted aggressively in their second innings before declaring at 264 for seven. Brook smashed 11 boundaries and three sixes in a swashbuckling knock, coming after his 153 in England's first innings.

Root also played a part in a 96-run partnership with Brook, scoring his 55th Test half-century.

Leg-spinner Zahid Mehmood dismissed Root and Stokes (nought) in the same over to finish with figures of 2-84, while Naseem took 2-66 and Mohammad Ali 2-64.

In the morning session, debutant Jacks took all three wickets to fall after Pakistan resumed at 499 for seven – but not before the host's tail-enders scored freely on a much-maligned flat Rawalpindi Stadium pitch.

Salman Ali Agha (53) and Mehmood (17) frustrated England for 50 minutes during their stubborn eighth-wicket stand of 57.