Babar Azam (R) celebrates after scoring a century during the third day of the first Test match in Rawalpindi on Saurday. AFP
England found ways to take wickets and sensed a good lead despite hundreds from three Pakistan players on the third day of the opening Test in Rawalpindi on Saturday.
Pakistan were 499-7 at stumps with Agha Salman (10) and Zahid Mahmood (yet to score) at the crease — still trailing England's mammoth 657 first innings total by 158 runs, with three wickets in hand.
On a see-saw day, Pakistan were lifted by centuries from skipper Babar Azam (136), and openers Imam-ul-Haq (121) and Abdullah Shafique (114). But England took three wickets in the first session, none in the second and three again before the close to put themselves in a better position.
If the tourists can force a 100-plus lead and score like they did in the first innings, they can still force a win on a Rawalpindi Stadium pitch which has given little help to the bowlers.
Spinners Will Jacks (3-132) and Jack Leach (2-160) shared the early spoils, while the pace duo of James Anderson and Ollie Robinson took a wicket each.
Ben Stokes (2L) and teammate James Anderson (2R) react as Babar Azam (R) and teammate Azhar Ali (L) run between the wickets. AFPSaturday's final session belonged to home skipper Azam, who hit 19 boundaries and a six for his first Test hundred against England.
He cracked a boundary towards cover off opposition skipper Ben Stokes to reach his eighth career Test century, this coming off 126 balls and studded with 13 boundaries.
Jacks forced a miscued drive off Azam to get him caught at point, and in the next over Mohammad Rizwan played straight in to the hands of mid-wicket off Anderson.
Debutant Saud Shakil, who added 123 for the fourth wicket with Azam, was caught behind off Robinson soon after the tea interval.
Earlier, Azam upped the tempo in the second session after Pakistan lost centurions Shafique (114), Haq (121) and Azhar Ali (27) before lunch.
Imam-ul-Haq (2R) celebrates after scoring a century as Ben Stokes (L) looks in Rawalpindi on Saurday. AFP
The centuries by Shafique and Haq meant for the first time in 146 years of Test cricket the openers of both teams reached three figures in the first innings.
Their 225-run opening stand — a Pakistan record against England — is also the first time in Test history that two 200-plus opening partnerships were made, following Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett's 233-run partnership for the visitors.
Pakistan started the day on 181 without loss and Shafique, 89 overnight, was the first to three figures with a sharp single off Joe Root.
Haq, who started the session on 90, followed with a boundary off the same bowler to complete his century.
They both now have three Test centuries and successive hundreds at the venue, having also reached three figures against Australia in March this year.
Crawley (122), Duckett (107), Ollie Pope (108) and Harry Brook (153) scored centuries for England in their first innings.
The remaining Tests are in Multan (December 9-13) and Karachi (December 17-21).
Openers Zak Crawley (122) and Ben Duckett (107) set the tone with quick-fire tons against a hapless Pakistan bowling attack before Ollie Pope (108) and Harry Brook (101 not out) compounded the hosts' misery.
England, on their first Test tour of Pakistan in 17 years, won the first Test in Rawalpindi by 74 runs and the second in Multan by 26 runs.
England, which bagged a 79-run first innings lead, reached 89-3 at tea on the second day with Ben Duckett (58 not out). It was a rare quiet session by England after it beat Pakistan by 74 runs in the first Test thanks to an ultra-attacking batting display.
The Girls in Green, Fatima Sana and Shawal Zulfiqar, sailed the team towards victory. Fatima's 3 wickets for 18 runs guided the girls towards a crucial first win and Shawal's 41 runs off 42 balls helped Pakistan chase the 128-run target set by the Kiwis.
South Africa’s Blitzboks overcame a spirited Argentina 12-7 to lift their fifth straight Emirates Dubai 7s trophy – equaling the record for successive titles at a single location. Although Argentina had to settle for silver it represented their best ever result in Dubai.
The 18-year-old Bojica, whose entry on the big stage of women’s tennis came at the Dubai Duty Free Women’s Open earlier this year, eased past Slovakia’s Nina Danisova 6-2, 6-3 in 99 minutes to set a meeting against eighth seed Peangtarn Plipuech of Thailand.
Connor Beasley claimed his 19th winner for the season with a treble at Jebel Ali Racecourse on Saturday, a haul that included victory in the feature Union Day Stakes, aboard Ahmad Bin Harmash’s Delorean, who went gate-to-wire in the contest over a mile. It was one of two wins for in-form trainer Harmash,