ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Recalled England bowler Monty Panesar spun out the top order and restricted Pakistan to 125-4 for an overall lead of 55 runs at stumps on the third day of the second test on Friday.
Panesar, playing his first test since 2009, removed Mohammad Hafeez (22), Younis Khan (1) and captain Misbah-ul-Haq (12) before Pakistan overhauled England’s meaningful first-innings lead of 70.
Pakistan hopes of challenging England in the last innings rest on little-known Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq, who will resume on 46 and 35 respectively.
Shafiq’s only blemish came when Pakistan’s lead was 23 and Kevin Pietersen’s underarm throw missed the stumps from close range.
Both batsmen carefully navigated the last session after Panesar trapped Misbah in the first over after tea and silenced the holiday crowd of around 7,000 Pakistan supporters — mostly expatriates working in this gulf country — at Sheikh Zayed Stadium.
“We still have a long way to go to make a comeback in this test match,” Ali said. “I think if we managed to take a lead of over 150, we can challenge them.”
Ali hit seven boundaries and Shafiq played a subdued innings with three fours, but they kept Pakistan’s hopes alive of attaining a decent lead on a wearing wicket.
England’s first-innings total of 327 was built around Stuart Broad’s aggressive 58 off 62 balls in reply to Pakistan’s 257. Broad batted with aggression and hit six fours and a six before he ran out of partners.
Pakistan ran into more trouble when Panesar and his spin partner Graeme Swann removed the openers at the same total of 29 in the space of eight deliveries.
Panesar also uprooted Khan’s off stump off an arm ball that went past the outside edge in taking 3-44, and captain Andrew Strauss built pressure with a cordon of five fielders around the bat.
“We are in a decent position,” Broad said despite Ali’s and Shafiq’s resistance of 33 overs. “The first hour (on Saturday) will be crucial as after 90 overs we can take a new ball.”
Earlier, England resumed from 207-5 overnight by adding a brisk 120 runs in a frustrating morning for Pakistan. Hafeez wrapped up the innings by claiming the last two wickets in the first over after lunch.
Pakistan did not pay too much for dropping catches offered by Matt Prior and Ian Bell as they fell soon after, but Broad took charge with some crisp boundaries to move England on rapidly.
Junaid Khan dropped a skier of Prior’s top-edged sweep to deep backward square leg in Saeed Ajmal’s second over of the morning and from the other end Abdur Rehman could not hold onto Bell’s powerful uppish drive that went for four.
Two overs later, Pakistan’s top wicket-taker Ajmal (4-108) didn’t need his fielders’ assistance when he trapped Prior (3) on the back foot and was adjudged lbw.
Broad restored England’s ascendancy as he lofted Ajmal over long off for four and imperiously drove the offspinner to cover boundary off the next delivery.
Pakistan took the second new ball with England at 250-6, but Broad hit two successive boundaries against fast bowler Umar Gul to get England past Pakistan’s total.
Bell (29) fell lbw to a Gul delivery that jagged back into him, with the decision confirmed by the replay referral, then Rehman hit Swann’s (15) pads right in front of the wicket.
Broad continued to frustrate Pakistan in the last half hour of the first session and put on a valuable 36 runs with No. 10 James Anderson (13) before Hafeez struck twice immediately after the break.
Pakistan leads the three-match series 1-0 after winning the first test by 10 wickets at Dubai last week.