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Second Test in Multan poised for exciting finish

Multan, 11 December 2022: The fans are all set to see another exciting result oriented Test match between Pakistan and England after the hosts finished day three of the Multan Test on 198 for four and need a further 157 to deny the tourists a second successive victory in the three-match series.

The tourists who are already 1-0 up in the three-match Test series, will look to win Test match tomorrow at the Multan Cricket Stadium and take an unassailable lead. Meanwhile, the hosts will be eager to go all out to win this Test match and go into the Karachi Test with series levelled 1-1.

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

England, which held a 79-run first innings lead, had set up a target of 355 runs after it was bowled out for 275 in its second innings today.

England had defeated Pakistan by 74 runs in the first Test at the Pindi Cricket Stadium, which was also England’s first test in Pakistan for 17 years.

The left-handed pair of Imam, who made 60, and Saud Shakeel (54 not out) had shared a 108-run stand and attacked the bowlers before Imam played a lose drive against Jack Leach and was caught in the slip late in the last session.

England had earlier missed an opportunity to dismiss Imam soon after he completed his half-century. Television replays showed a tiny spike on Imam’s bat when he tried to glance Mark Wood down the legside delivery and was well caught by Ollie Pope. However, captain Ben Stokes didn’t go for the referral.

James Anderson, OIlie Robinson and Wood showed great display of seam and swing bowling in the middle session, claiming three wickets for 17 runs before Imam and Shakeel dug in and took 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 confidently at No. 5 though Will Jacks had a chance to end his innings but couldn’t hold onto a sharp return. Harry Brook also couldn’t grab a low one-handed catch at forward short leg when Shakeel was batting on just four.

Earlier in the day, Brook had hit his second successive century and made 108 off 149 balls before England were bowled out for 275.

In the absence of Imam, Abdullah Shafique (45) and Mohammad Rizwan (30) batted fluently and provided a confident start of 66 before England’s seamers started to pressure the home team after lunch.

Anderson dismissed Rizwan immediately after the break off a ball that left the right-hander just enough to knock back his off stump. Babar Azam (1) offered no shot to Robinson’s sharp incoming delivery and was also clean bowled.

Wood switched ends and went through the defenses of Abdullah with a sharp fast delivery as Pakistan slumped to 83 for three.

Mystery spinner Abrar Ahmed prospered again and ended up with match figures of 11 for 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 at the Pindi Cricket Stadium in 1996.

Resuming their second innings at the overnight score of 202 for five, with 281 runs ahead, Stokes (41) stretched the sixth wicket stand with Brook to 101 runs as England scored at a brisk pace before losing five wickets for just 19 runs.

Brook, 74 overnight, raised his second hundred with a pulled boundary from left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz before Stokes fell to a brilliant running catch by Mohammad Ali at deep mid-wicket.

Abrar, who took seven for 114 in the first innings, claimed his fourth second-innings wicket by having Robinson clean bowled off a googly before leg-spinner Zahid Mahmood (3-52) took the last two wickets in one over shortly after England’s lead crossed the 350-run mark.

Brook, who hit 14 fours and a six, was caught in the outfield when he swept Mahmood to deep square leg and Anderson was trapped leg before wicket.

Scores in brief:

England 281 all out, 51.4 overs (Ben Duckett 63, Ollie Pope 60, Mark Wood 36 not out, Will Jacks 31, Ben Stokes 20; Abrar Ahmed 7-114, Zahid Mehmood 3-63) and 275 all out, 64.5 overs (Harry Brook 108, Ben Duckett 79, Ben Stokes 41, Joe Root 21; Abrar Ahmed 4-120, Zahid Mehmood 3-52)

Pakistan 202 all out, 62.5 overs (Babar Azam 75, Saud Shakeel 63, Faheem Ashraf 22; Jack Leach 4-98, Joe Root 2-23, Mark Wood 2-40) and 198-4, 64 overs (Imam-ul-Haq 60, Saud Shakeel 54 not out, Abdullah Shafique 45, Mohamad Rizwan 30)