May 30, 2023

Lunch England 140 for 4 (Brook 38*, Stokes 25*) trail Pakistan 304 (Babar 78, Salman 56, Leach 4-140) by 164 runs

Pakistan’s spinners prised the third Test open on the second morning, as Nauman Ali and Abrar Ahmed took three wickets between them to leave England’s middle order with work to do.

England resumed on 7 for 1 after Abrar had trapped Zak Crawley lbw for a fifth-ball duck on the first evening, and added 133 to their overnight score for the loss of three wickets in the morning session.

With the pitch showing more signs of variable bounce on the second day, Ben Duckett and Ollie Pope looked comfortable in bringing up a 50-run stand for the second wicket. Mohammad Wasim, on debut, conceded three early boundaries and was whisked out of the attack by Mohammad Rizwan, who stood in as captain for the first hour with Babar Azam suffering from a headache.

Faheem Ashraf, the other seamer in the Pakistan line-up, bowled a solitary over before Nauman and Abrar operated in tandem for next hour. Pope was busy, nudging singles and punching either side of the wicket, while Duckett continued to sweep regularly as he has throughout the tour and brought up a 50 partnership when skipping down to loft Abrar back over his head for a straight six.

It was Nauman, the left-arm spinner, who made the breakthrough. He found sharp spin from outside Duckett’s off stump, trapping him on the pad as he hung back rather than coming forward to a full ball. He was given out and reviewed the on-field decision in the hope that the ball had struck him outside the line of off stump, but ball-tracking technology gave an ‘umpire’s call’ verdict on impact.

And Nauman struck again with his next ball to continue Joe Root’s lean run on this tour. Bowling from around the wicket, he drew Root forwards with a full ball that turned away from the bat, and Root’s tentative push flew to Salman Ali Agha at slip. He held onto a sharp, low chance just above the turf, leaving England 58 for 3.

That brought Harry Brook to the crease, who calmly worked the hat-trick ball into the off side and made his intentions clear by skipping down the pitch to the sixth delivery he faced, swinging Abrar high and mighty back over his head for six.

Brook survived a review for lbw when trapped on the crease by Abrar – with Babar back on the field to send it upstairs – but Pakistan’s legspinner was undeterred. No sooner had Pope reached his third half-century of the tour by slashing Nauman through point, he lost his off stump. Hanging back to combat the low bounce, he was beaten by Abrar’s fizzing legbreak and could only shake his head in disbelief.

Brook swung Abrar back over his head for six more later in the same over, bringing up another milestone for Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum’s team. It was England’s 88th six in men’s Tests in 2022, breaking India’s 2021 record for the most sixes by a team in a calendar year (where data is available).

Wasim returned for another burst before lunch but was carved through the off side for boundaries by both Stokes and Brook, with Stokes motoring on 25 off 31 heading into the lunch break and the partnership worth 42 in 52 balls.

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98

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