6th over: Pakistan 25-2 (Shakeel 0, Imam-ul-Haq 13) Stokes, right arm in a sleeve, left arm running free, runs in, lit by the flattering evening light, throws down a short one, Babar backs away, lifts his bat over the top and gets a slither of a bottom edge through to Pope. Almost an impossible task for Pakistan from here.
“This is a very courageous declaration by Stokes based on the run rates in this Test. I sincerely hope that it pays off,” writes Mike Galvin before Babar falls.
Looks harmless enough on first viewing, but Pope roars an appeal behind the stumps, Stokes turns in some surprise, and sees the umpire raising his finger. Silence falls over Pindi like a collapsing tent.
5th over: Pakistan 24-1 (Babar 4, Imam-ul-Haq 12) New batter Azhar Ali is hit on the hand second ball by Robinson and there is a pause as various ointments are sprayed and applied. Keaton Jennings is on the field – onfer Livingstone, I presume. Oh, hang on, Azhar is walking off, retired hurt, I don’t think he can grip the bat properly. So that brings out Babar Azam, getting the full Tendulkar treatment from the delighted crowd. A huge chance for England here if they can winkle out the captain before stumps. But he’s not phased, on his toes immediately viciously cut/chops a slightly wide ball from Robinson for four.
Tactic works! Shafique pulls elegantly, but straight to deep square leg where Harry Brook is waiting, catching safely at awkward thigh height.
4th over: Pakistan 20-0 (Shafique 6, Imam-ul-Haq 12) A tasty pull in front of square by Imam that beats Anderson to the rope, but Stokes’ next ball nearly works, tempting him into a greedy swipe.
3rd over: Pakistan 15-0 (Shafique 5, Imam-ul-Haq 8) A tall thin shadow stretches over the square, as Robinson runs in from the edge of the shade, enormously thick white wristband on his left wrist. Short stuff, cat and mouse.
Hello Tim “Frindall” Lord. ”Just spotted that if Pakistan make 316 or more in the chase, this’ll be the second highest scoring Test ever (and the only one ahead of it was timeless). And that despite only having around 400 overs in the match. Incredible.”
2nd over: Pakistan 13-0 (Shafique 4, Imam-ul-Haq 8) Enforcer Stokes is belted for four in consecutive balls by Imam, the next four fly harmlessly by. Apologies for not getting hold of your emails over the last hour – hopefully things will be a bit quieter now and I’ll get on to them.
1st over: Pakistan 5-0 (Shafique 4, Imam-ul-Haq 0) Ollie Robinson gets the new ball and powers through an over of effort and grunt. Three tasty bouncers that Shafique ducks safely.
Here come Pakistan!
Dreamable. Gettable. Game on.
35.5 overs: England 264-7 (Livingstone 7) Crazy days, crazy hitting, crazy runs. The umpires call tea with the fall of Brook whose scorching innings led the way and whose future looks assured. England lead by 342 – I guess they’ll try for another fifty in quick-time after the break?
Gilbert Jessop smiles and turns over. Brook has a mighty swing, misses and hears the death rattle. Strides off, with 87 from 65 balls, 3 sixes and eleven fours. And 240 in the match from 181 balls.
35th over: England 260-6 ( Brook 85, Livingstone 6) Mohammad Ali returns, a run-up full of trepidation. But he does Harry Brook with a slower ball, who goes to scoop but ends up on his back like an overturned beetle. He grins to himself, and why not – with 85 off 62 balls he is closing in on Gilbert Jessop’s 1902 record of fastest century off 76 balls. Livingstone limps through a run.
34th over: England 253-6 ( Brook 84, Livingstone 1) Jack perils after two consecutive sixes, Livingstone swipes first ball for one, then Brook picks up another boundary as the ball slips through the fielder on the rope. The run rate approaches seven and a half an over and it all feels like a frenetic dream.
Jacks loses a hand off the back, scrapes the moon, before the ball returns to extra cover where it is safely caught. Tasty, hasty, debut, 24 off 13 balls.
33rd over: England 229-5 ( Brook 79, Jacks 6) The fastest Test century by an Englishman now in grasping distance of Harry Brook as Liam Livingstone shadow-bats up in the dressing room – just the 17 off Mahmood’s over. A straight six for each batsman and a powerful cover drive by Brooks.
32nd over: England 218-5 ( Brook 68, Jacks 6) Salman gets more tap, a wham over long-off from Brook before bowler-of-the-moment Jacks joins in with a reverse-sweep.
31th over: England 209-5 ( Brook 63, Jacks 2) Brook gets in a twist advancing down the pitch and is nearly undone by a leaping Rizwan. He then unleashes two incredible shots – a charging slam over the on-side boundary for six, then a ferocious sweep. I’ve got a hunch Stokes didn’t tell him to play for the draw.
30th over: England 198-5 ( Brook 52, Jacks 2) With a dab off his boots, Brook reaches fifty. Effortless. The most-assured looking England debutant since Root. Is that fair?
29th over: England 192-5 ( Brook 50, Jacks 0) A cheering double-wicket maiden for the long-suffering Zahid Mahmood as England suffer a pre-tea wobble.
Stokes takes an age to leave, giving a slightly bewildered Brook two paragraphs of instructions, after an ugly third ball hoick to cover.
A sweep too many for Root who, out of nowhere, turns the ball round the corner into the hands of the waiting Imam who catches as he falls backwards.
28th over: England 192-3 (Root 73, Brook 49) Root and Brook finish the over with a chat after Brook sweeps Salman audaciously for four more.
27th over: England 185-3 (Root 71, Brook 44) Brook starts the over with a top-edge off Mahmood but finishes it with a smooth chocolatey straight-drive and a briskly-effective sweep. He’s not having a bad second Test.
26th over: England 175-3 (Root 70, Brook 35) Babar plumps for his fourth bowler, Salman Agha, who sends down some off-breaks round the wicket. Root keeping his conventional stance but reverse-sweeping with the nonchalance of someone wiping down the kitchen counter. The lead is 253.
25th over: England 168-3 (Root 65, Brook 33) Under blue skies, Mahmood whirls in, five singles are eased through.
”I am completely gobsmacked by what Eng are doing here,” writes Krishna.. “Its one thing to do this at home (as they did last summer) and its easier to go all out when you are chasing a total down. But to keep playing this way when you could lose is … astonishing. Hats off to McCullum and Stokes for dragging test cricket into a new era – and possibly saving it in the bargain. A final thought though: will they / can they do this against Australia? especially in Australia? But whatever happens, I think an old paradigm has been demolished and (hopefully) test cricket will never be the same again. “
24th over: England 163-3 (Root 63, Brook 31) Root practises some shots left-handed – just because he can – but opts to face right-handed. And that’s a dreamy flick to midwicket for four. Meanwhile his Yorkshire teammate Harry Brook drives immaculately through the covers for four more. Tick-tock, the runs stack up and the declaration gallops over the horizon.
23rd over: England 153-3 (Root 58, Brook 26) Thanks Jim! Wood and Overton bring out drinks, Overton towering over the Lilliputians. And, er, Joe Root decides to bat left-handed, sweeps and the ball falls through the hands of Naseem Shah. Two balls later he reverts to his more typical stance and reverse sweeps Mahmood for four.
22nd over: England 145-3 (Root 51, Brook 25) In which Joe Root racks up his 83rd Test fifty! Pure class. Speaking of which – Tanya Aldred is here to take over the OBO reins and guide you through the second half of what promises to be an enthralling day. Thanks for your company, especially in the weeeeee small hours. See you tomorrow for the final knockings. Bye!
21st over: England 141-3 (Root 47, Brook 25) Ten runs off the over as Zahid struggles to stem the flow. Harry Brook treats him with disdain by shimmying down the track and clattering a length ball down the ground.
20th over: England 131-3 (Root 43, Brook 19) Naseem Shah is into the attack and he is giving it is usual gusto, fine head of jet black hair bobbing up and down as he hurtles in. Root and Brooks rotate and push England on by four runs.
19th over: England 127-3 (Root 40, Brook 18) That’s more like it! Nine runs off Zahid, including a ferocious Harry Brook cover drive. England’s lead is up to 209.
18th over: England 118-3 (Root 37, Brook 12) Things quieten down for an over with just a Joe Root single off Ali. England’s run rate tanks below seven for the first time this innings.
17th over: England 117-3 (Root 36, Brook 12) Brook hammers Zahid for another four through mid-wicket. The young Yorkshire lad looks to be in fine fettle.
16th over: England 111-3 (Root 35, Brook 7) Six runs milked from Ali’s over without breaking sweat.
G’morning Em Jackson!
“Morning James, morning everyone,
If England somehow manage to conjure a lead of 350 (lead is about 175 as I type), and accept falling short (arguably again, remember claims of 750 on Day 2?) then lose, how do we look at the shenanigans of this pitch in that light?
I admit, that could be pessimistic… but if Pakistan could chase down 350 in a day, it’d be some drama.”
This game is bubbling up very nicely Em. FWIW I think the pitch is fine, it is flat, sure, but all three results will still be possible on the final day. Granted that might be more due to England’s prolific scoring rate meaning that the game has still had the chance to progress.
15th over: England 105-3 (Root 30, Brook 6) Brook gets off the mark with a stonking six over mid-wicket! Zahid dropped short and Brook was onto it in a flash.
14th over: England 96-3 (Root 27, Brook 0) Harry Brook joins Root at the crease. England lead by 177.
Nicholas Gates whangs down an email:
“In response to Adrain Patterson’s earlier lovely Shakespearian effort and having been following the game whilst on a school trip to the Christmas Markets in Aarchen, Germany I thought I might lamely add, ‘Happy Jack’ by The Who as a suitable musical tribute to Jacks’ brilliant debut.”
Crawley notches fifty and then gets a feather on a short ball and has to drag himself off! Rizwan was certain behind the stumps but it had to be reviewed for the incriminating DRS spike to be revealed.
13th over: England 91-2 (Crawley 48, Root 25) Test debutant Zahid Mahmood is on for some spin and he starts nicely, just one run from his first.
12th over: England 90-2 (Crawley 47, Root 25) Pakistan are starting to leak runs, there have been 44 since lunch. Zak Crawley plays a cover drive of such elegance the whole ground seems to purr. Nasser describes it as “exquisite” and it really was, worth seeking out on the highlights later. Joe Root gives Babar more to ponder by gliding the final ball of the over away for four more. Ten off the over.
11th over: England 80-2 (Crawley 42, Root 20) Big over! Crawley plunders two boundaries from Naseem’s first two balls, all long levers and timing, he looks in excellent form – he loves playing against Pakistan. Joe Root then plays an outrageous reverse scoop that flies away for four over the keeper! 14 runs off the over, on we go…
10th over: England 66-2 (Crawley 33, Root 15) Shot! Crawley plays a Pietersen-esque flamingo flick through mid-wicket for four!
9th over: England 58-2 (Crawley 28, Root 12) Ahh that’s lovely from Root, a delicious late glide for four off Naseem Shah, silky hands from the Sheffield man.
Adrian Paterson has been dipping his quill and delving into his sonnets:
“Jim, as a sleepless English Lit. academic in Innsbruck I’m trying to celebrate Will Jacks’ remarkable debut performance by working in Shakespeare’s Sonnet 128. It’s not going so well, being just this side of wildly inappropriate. Maybe some less addled OBOers can help, as lots of the lines about “sweet fingers” and “dead wood” (dead bat, or maybe batters who have got out) seem to apply to spin bowling, of the sort that might bemuse batters (“so tickled that they would change their state”). It ought to work – after all it is a (saucy) sonnet by Will (S.) all about Jacks (in this case meaning the balance on the keys of a wooden keyboard instrument, hence them leaping up when played by the fingers).
How oft, when thou, my music, music play’st
Upon that blessèd wood whose motion sounds
With thy sweet fingers when thou gently sway’st
The wiry concord that mine ear confounds,
Do I envy those jacks that nimble leap
To kiss the tender inward of thy hand,
Whilst my poor lips, which should that harvest reap
At the wood’s boldness by thee blushing stand.
To be so tickled they would change their state
And situation with those dancing chips,
O’er whom thy fingers walk with gentle gait,
Making dead wood more blest than living lips.
Since saucy jacks so happy are in this,
Give them thy fingers, me thy lips to kiss
Ach, well. Anyway Jacks is certainly enviable right now, and should definitely keep hold of his fingers. And keep up the nimble work with yours!”
8th over: England 50-2 (Crawley 25, Root 7) Mohammad Ali starts up after the interval. Just one (very wide) slip in place. England start with a positively pedestrian four runs from the over. Nasser Hussain was saying during the break that England are not interested in a draw at all, that they are happy to risk losing if it means they’ve given themselves the best chance of winning. It such shift in mindset to traditional Test match thinking, the fear of failure just is not there with this side.
If England aim to go at six an over then they’ll be able dangle a 350 odd target and have a dart at Pakistan for a few overs in the shadows this evening.
The players are headed back out onto field in Rawalpindi. I’ve got my Paddington Bear on and scoffed down plenty of toast and marmalade here in a chilly London, time to settle in for an engrossing few hours of cricket.