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England roar back into the contest after 14 wickets tumble on day three
Day Three Report

England roar back into the contest after 14 wickets tumble on day three

England rallied around their pacers to launch a terrific fightback in the latter half of the third day of the first Test against Pakistan in Manchester.

Ben Stokes, who did not bowl in the first innings owing to concerns over a quad injury, picked two wickets in his brief spell in the final hour to throttle Pakistan's batting line-up.

The visitors controlled most of the game's proceedings before losing the plot in the last session on Friday where they lost a total of seven wickets with moderate progress.

Pakistan went to stumps at 137-8 in their second innings allowing them a lead of 244 runs, which in the context of the dry Old Trafford surface could prove to be a challenging target.

Stokes' moment of inspiration came only in his second over when he had Mohammad Rizwan lbw for 27. He made another impact with the ball as a bumper had Shaheen Afridi glove the ball to Rory Burns at gully.

Yasir Shah, who boasts a Test ton against Australia, was still there at the crease on 12 not out and would be looking to add useful runs to Pakistan's tally tomorrow morning alongside the rest of the two batsmen.

Despite England bustling back into the contest with regular breakthroughs, the fourth-innings record at Old Trafford is not too pleasing for their liking. Only twice has a team chased more than 200 on this venue with the last successful occurrence back in 2008.

On the other hand, England's losing rut in a series opener has been a troubling aspect of their Test performances during the last 10 series.

England conceded such a large first-innings lead to Pakistan due to Yasir's brilliance on a wearing pitch as the hosts failed to negate his vicious turn and astute variations.

Having resumed the day on 92-4, England did well to survive the opening hour unscathed in the face of superb swing bowling from Mohammad Abbas and company.

The wicket finally arrived for Pakistan when Ollie Pope could not get out of the way of a rising short ball from Naseem Shah that caught the shoulder of his bat and landed straight to Shadab Khan.

Jos Buttler, keen on proving his worth following a spate of dropped chances behind the stumps in the first innings, was dismissed by Yasir soon after the lunch interval. The wicketkeeper-batsman did not adjust to the delivery that went on with the arm and crashed into the woodwork.

Yasir then darted in a nasty leg-break that accounted for the scalp of counterpart spinner Dom Bess. He also bamboozled Chris Woakes with a quick flipper as the batsman tried to rock back and nail a pull shot only to watch the bails fly in the air.

England's last two wickets fell to all-rounder Shadab just when Stuart Broad threatened to whittle away at the deficit having reached an attacking 29.

Pakistan's batting immediately was engulfed by problems as Shan Masood was strangled down the leg-side without contributing a single run. He was his side's hero in the first innings as he conjured his career-best 156 in Pakistan's total of 326.

In-form paceman Woakes reduced the opposition to 63-4 after Babar Azam faltered by hanging his bat outside off-stump and skipper Azhar Ali's bad form continued.

Rizwan batted decently and tried to revive Pakistan's innings when he was involved in a 38-run partnership with Asad Shafiq but the latter was removed courtesy of Dom Sibley's athleticism in the field. Sibley leapt onto the ball in a jiffy as Shafiq set out for the striker's end for a speedy single but the Englishman knocked over the stumps with a direct hit, catching him well short of the crease.

With England having dramatically wrested the momentum, Pakistan would still fancy their chances of prevailing in the Test given the variety in their bowling attack and the presence of two leggies in their line-up.