Multan Test enters crucial phase as Wood remove Nawaz, Saud

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MULTAN: Mark Wood pull out a sensational comeback for England when he removed dangerous-looking Mohammad Nawaz and Saud Shakeel to hang the Multan test in balance with Pakistan 64 runs away from the series leveller with three wickets in hand on Day 4, here on Monday. 

Nawaz played a sensational knock of 46 off 62 balls to put Pakistan on top with Saud equally contributing with his batting domination over England but Wood provided England with the much-needed breakthroughs to slip Pakistan to 291/7 before Lunch.

Pakistan resumed the play on the penultimate day of the second Test at 198/4 and had an early scare in form of Faheem Ashraf who fell prey to part-timer Joe Root before Nawaz and Saudtook the charge and stitched a crucial 80-run partnership on the sixth wicket.

Wood struck just at the right time when he removed Nawaz and took down Saud, who missed his century by six runs, in the next over to steer back in the game before umpire called the first session.

Earlier on day 3, the duo of Imam-ul-Haq and Saud took the charge of the English bowlers in the final session and neutralized the top-order collapse with a gritty 108-run partnership as both scored half-centuries.

The pair appeared solid and likely to carry their bat through till the stumps before Jack Leach provided England with a much-needed breakthrough in the form of Imam, who walked back after scoring 60 off 104 balls with the help of seven boundaries.

Saud, on the other hand, stood firm and carried on his unbeaten half-century knock as he finished not out on 54 and added seven runs for the fifth wicket with Faheem Ashraf before the stumps.

Saud (54*) and Faheem (3*) will now resume the run chase for Pakistan on the fourth day. The hosts need 157 runs to level the series, while England need six wickets to claim a historic series triumph.

James Anderson, Ollie Robinson, Mark Wood and Jack Leach all picked up a wicket apiece for England in the final innings.

The touring side enjoyed an eventful second session of the third day as they removed Pakistan’s key batters, Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan and Abdullah Shafique in quick successions to halt their march despite openers providing a solid start.

Pakistan, on the other hand, could only add 72 runs for the loss of three wickets and needed a further 219 runs with more than two days remaining.

Pakistan openers Abdullah and Rizwan, who seemed exceptional in the first session, failed to carry on their momentum as Anderson took just five deliveries after the break to split the opening stand.

The veteran pacer deceived Rizwan with an outstanding outswinger that castled the latter’s off-stump and put an end to his 30-run knock.

Pakistan then endured a major setback when captain Babar perished cheaply as he could score a mere one run before being castled by Robinson.

Following two back-to-back dismissals, Abdullah attempted to anchor the run chase but could only add 17 runs with Saud Shakeel for the third wicket as Wood brought an end to his fighting knock and Pakistan consequently, slipped to 83/3.

The right-handed opening batter scored 45 off 94 deliveries, laced with four boundaries and four sixes.

Following the slump, however, Saud and Imam-ul-Haq put on a brave fight as they kept English bowlers at bay and ticked the scoreboard to take Pakistan to 136/3 at the stroke of Tea.

Saud was unbeaten on 32 while Imam had made 25 not out.

Earlier, Pakistan openers Abdullah and Rizwan managed to provide a decent despite the absence of full-time opener Imam, who was taken to a local hospital here for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans as he felt unease in his right hamstring.

Their unbeaten partnership bolstered Pakistan to finish at 64/0 at Lunch on the third day of the ongoing second Test.

The duo appeared solid and scored at a decent rate of more than four runs per over to push English bowlers at the backfoot.

At the time of the lunch break, Abdullah was unbeaten on 34 while Rizwan had made 28 not out.

Earlier, England bundled out for 275 in the second innings and managed to set a decent 355-run target for the hosts.

Left-handed batter Harry Brook led the way for the touring side as he brought up his second Test century to power England to set a commendable total for Pakistan.



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