England have given themselves a chance of winning the first Test against Pakistan after taking seven wickets on day three in Rawalpindi - watch live coverage of day four from 4.45am on Sunday on Sky Sports Cricket and Sky Sports Main Event
Sunday 4 December 2022 07:55, UK
England ended day three of the first Test against Pakistan as slight favourites, after taking four wickets after tea and maintaining a 158-run lead.
Despite centuries from Imam-ul-Haq (121), Abdullah Shafique (114) and Babar Azam (136), wickets from Jack Leach (2-160), James Anderson (1-47), Ollie Robinson (1-64) and Will Jacks (3-132) has brought the prospect of a win back into the equation.
Joe Root was clear about England's plan going into the final two days, and a draw will not come into the thinking.
"With our team, we will be making sure we give ourselves a chance of winning the game. We are not interested in drawing the match. If Pakistan are good enough to beat us, then so be it. We will try and get ourselves to a reasonable total and I am sure there will be some exciting cricket to play," he said.
"It was a brilliant day, that last session, all the hard work leading up to it, it came to fruition. It was very attritional, we had to be creative through the day and tried a number of different things, and we got our rewards at the end through the hard work.
"If you feel like you have no chance, it makes it hard. We tried different things and tried to keep it fun and interesting and ask them questions of what we were trying to do. It gives us a good opportunity to win this Test match."
However, Mark Butcher is unsure whether England will have enough overs left in the second innings to bowl Pakistan out and secure a win.
"You would imagine that you'd want 100 overs to bowl a side out at the bare minimum, and I'm not sure where they are going to find those. They are going to have to bowl all the last day and at least a session of the fourth day to have enough overs to bowl a team out, never mind how many runs they get," he said.
"It's interesting, in order to win the match, it will be one of those situations where three wickets go down very quickly [Sunday] morning, which could easily happen. England then come out and pull out 350 tops ahead as fast as humanly possibly, and then go out there and bowl.
"In offering Pakistan, a chance in winning the match, you open up the opportunity of bagging a few wickets that you have stolen and then putting on the pressure to win the game. There is no chance England are going to bat well into tomorrow."
Butcher added England were stuck in an "awful rut" before Stokes and Brendon McCullum took over, but now they look like a completely different side who will not mind losing the match while chasing a win.
"I remember watching Joe Root at the end of the West Indies series and that haunted look in his eye and the pain that was causing him, not least in the style of cricket they were playing," he added.
"They seemed to be stuck in this awful rut. Now, the way they are being led and told to play, which is basically, losing a game of cricket in the attempt of winning it is not the end of the world."
While it is clear England will chase a win, Pakistan would be forgiven for trying to avoid a loss and take a draw going into the second Test.
But Pakistan's opener Shafique said his side will have a positive approach going into the final two days.
"We have seen in the first two days the wicket was good to bat on, the ball is spinning now, and we will get some favour," he said.
"It will be a good contest. We have a positive approach, there is no approach of going for the draw. England will play attacking again and give us a good total, so we will fight it out."
Kumar Sangakkara was, however, critical of Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan's approach. Rizwan hit a quick-fire 25 and shared a fifty partnership with his captain, with both playing attacking cricket to try and narrow the deficit.
But the former Sri Lanka captain thinks they should have taken a more conservative approach.
"Rizwan and Azam could have had a chat, understanding what England's mentality was. If they had batted until the end of the day and taken a chunk of time and runs out of England's total tomorrow, England would have still been under pressure searching for the win," he said.
"They need four sessions, the risk they would have to take in the short period of time might have played into Pakistan's hands."
With two days left and all results still possible, watch live coverage of day three of England's first Test against Pakistan live on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Cricket from 4.45am, with the first ball at around 5pm.