Aslam, Ali hold firm against England

Cricket bat and ball (Getty Images)
Cricket bat and ball (Getty Images)

Birmingham - Sami Aslam and Azhar Ali again frustrated England after the early loss of Mohammad Hafeez as Pakistan battled to save the third Test at Edgbaston on Sunday.

At lunch on the fifth and final day, Pakistan were 69 for one, needing 343 to win, after England had declared just four overs into Sunday's play on 445 for six.

Aslam was 36 not out and Azhar 30 not out.

Pakistan now required a further 274 runs in a minimum of 62 overs to go 2-1 up in the four-match series.

More realistically, they had to bat out two sessions for a draw that would keep the campaign all square ahead of next week's finale at The Oval.

Hafeez, who made nought in the first innings, fell for just two on Sunday when he hooked fast-medium bowler Stuart Broad straight to long leg, where Chris Woakes made no mistake with the routine catch on his Warwickshire home ground.

His exit completed a miserable 50th Test for Hafeez, who also dropped an important slip catch to reprieve Joe Root on Saturday.

It also meant the opener had made just 102 runs in six innings this series.

As had happened in Pakistan's first innings when they shared a stand of 181 in a total of 400, with Aslam marking his return to Test cricket with 82 and Azhar's 139 his first century at this level outside Asia, the second-wicket duo faced a rebuilding job.

But once more 20-year-old left-hander Aslam showed his class with two fours in as many balls off fast bowler Steven Finn.

England captain Alastair Cook decided against declaring before the start of Sunday's play even though, at 414 for five, his side already led by 311 runs.

Jonny Bairstow was 82 not out and Moeen Ali 60 not out after they had taken the match away from Pakistan on Saturday.

Quick runs were what England needed now and Birmingham-born Ali, who grew up near Edgbaston, delivered them in style.

Sunday's first over from Yasir Shah saw England score 20 runs, 19 of those off Ali's bat.

Leg-spinner Shah's third delivery was lofted for six over midwicket by Ali.

Left-hander Ali struck the next ball for six as well, this time over long-on.

Shah's fifth ball of the day was then sent skimming through midwicket for four by Ali who ended the over with a two.

Pakistan's match-winner in their 75-run win in the first Test at Lord's, Shah's lone over Sunday saw him finish the innings with figures of two for 152 in 42 overs.

Bairstow had added just one run to his overnight score when he was lbw to Sohail Khan on review.

His excellent 83 came off 127 balls including eight fours, with Bairstow and Ali adding 152 in under 29 overs.

Ali was 86 not out, off just 96 balls including 10 fours and two sixes when Cook declared, having made a useful 63 in England's first innings 297.

Pakistan were left needing to set an Edgbaston record if they were to pull off an unlikely victory as the highest fourth-innings score to win a Test at the ground is South Africa's 283 for five in 2008.

But it was only last year that Pakistan achieved their corresponding record of 382 for three away to Sri Lanka in Pallekelle.

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