Pakistan reach 499-7 after Imam, Abdullah and Babar centuries

Even though Abdullah Shafique, Imamul Haq, and Babar Azam all scored hundreds on the third day of the first Test in Rawalpindi on Saturday, England was able to take wickets and felt like they had a good lead.

Pakistan were 499-7 at stumps with Agha Salman (10) and Zahid Mahmood (one) at the crease — still trailing England’s mammoth 657 first innings total by 158 runs, with three wickets in hand.

On an interesting day, Pakistan’s captain Babar Azam (136) and openers Imam-ul-Haq (121) and Abdullah Shafique (100) helped them win (114). But England got rid of three batsmen in the first session, none in the second, and four more before the end of the day to make themselves stronger.

Spinners Will Jacks (three for 132) and Jack Leach (two for 160) shared the early spoils, while the pace duo of James Anderson and Ollie Robinson took a wicket each.

In the last session on Saturday, the home team’s captain, Babar Azam, hit 19 fours and a six to get his first Test century against England. He cracked a boundary towards cover off opposition skipper Ben Stokes to reach his eighth career Test century, this coming off 126 balls and studded with 13 boundaries.

Jacks got Babar to hit a bad shot, so he was caught at point. In the next over, Mohammad Rizwan hit an Anderson ball right into the hands of mid-wicket.

Saud Shakeel, who was making his debut, put on 123 runs with Babar before being caught behind by Robinson soon after the tea break.

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Before lunch, Pakistan lost Abdullah Shafique (114), Imam-ul-Haq (120), and Azhar Ali (27), all of whom had made hundreds. In the second session, Babar sped up the game.

Shafique and Haq’s centuries made it the first time in 146 years of Test cricket that both teams’ openers got to 100 in the first innings. After Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett’s 233-run opening stand for the visitors, their 225-run opening stand is a Pakistan record against England. It is also the first time in Test history that two 200-plus opening partnerships were made in the same match.

Pakistan began the day with 181 runs and no wickets lost. Abdullah Shafique, who had 89 runs the day before, was the first to reach 100 with a sharp single off Joe Root. Imam-ul-Haq, who was on 90 at the start of the session, then hit a boundary off the same bowler to reach 100.

They both now have three Test centuries and successive hundreds at the venue, having also reached three figures against Australia in March this year.


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