36th: Pakistan 104-3 (Babar 18, Shakeel 28) Babar clips to the side of the leg for a single after a series of blocks. Shakeel is also vigilant.
35th: Pakistan 103-3 (Babar 17, Shakeel 28) Ben Stokes decides to give it a try himself, so Rehan Ahmed must continue his wait for a bowl today.
34th: Pakistan 100-3 (Babar 14, Shakeel 28) So it’s up to Leach to continue after lunch, and he only concedes one to start.
Yes, it was quite sad to see Azhar leave without scoring. But as you allude to it, he can, at the very least, say it was a Bradmanesque finish.
Rob Lewis from Istanbul registers: “How do you find the duty of OBO now that you become a regular? I hope the early mornings don’t tire your head too much, but you seem to be doing well.
Thanks Rob, I love it. But I’ll almost certainly go back to bed for a nap once I wrap things up here.
John Starbuck writes in: “England batting by tea, perhaps?”
It’s ambitious, I would say. Babar is still finding his way in this round but I have a funny feeling he is in for a big game today.
The morning of England, I think. The first two Pakistanis got off to a good start, quickly erasing the remaining deficit. But Jack Leach intervened in spectacular fashion, taking three wickets in the space of two overs, including that of Azahar Ali in his last innings as an international cricketer. Saud Shakeel and Babar Azam helped with the recovery but there is still a lot of work to do after the break.
33rd: Pakistan 99-3 (Babar 13, Shakeel 28) Wood sprints into the bowl at Shakeel, with two men positioned nearby at midwicket. I think we know what’s coming. But the quick mid-term bluffs, tempting a yorker who is choked. And it will be lunch.
32nd: Pakistan 99-3 (Shakeel 28, Babar 13) Leach walks away and Shakeel continues to scroll things.
31st: Pakistan 96-3 (Shakeel 25, Babar 13) Mark Wood comes back for a hit with a ball that showed a hint or two of reverse swing.
30th plus: Pakistan 93-3 (Shakeel 23, Babar 12) Leach goes up on appeal after Babar comes down the track to play a forward defense – pad first? Stokes decides to go upstairs.
It’s the pad first, but Babar is far too low on the pitch, so it’s the referee who decides on impact.
29th: Pakistan 91-3 (Babar 11, Shakeel 22) Robinson briefly steps away from the line and length to bring in the bouncer, and he manages to pin Shakeel to the helmet. This brings a break in play but the batter is all good to continue.
Brian Withington writes: “I was a bit delayed with the gift wrapping, but it was good to hear Lord Gower bring the same committed rapier spirit to Sensodyne infomercials as he does to his cricket commentary .”
Listen, listen – it was pretty awesome to hear David Gower reminisce about the comms for this series.
28th over: Pakistan 90-3 (Babar 10, Shakeel 22) Leach continues, with Babar and Shakeel hitting him to pick up four over the top.
27th: Pakistan 86-3 (Shakeel 19, Babar 9) Babar throws his bat to the outside, but Robinson beats it with a ball that flies away slightly. Nice lines from fast to right handed. There’s also a bit of reverse swing starting to show, with Robinson having the ball late.
26th: Pakistan 86-3 (Babar 9, Shakeel 19) Babar clips a single on Leach’s first pitch to bring Shakeel back on the strike. After a point, the southpaw sees some hanging time on the ball and runs down the track for a smooth off-track to the boundary. He looked like a very tidy player in all series with Shakeel, and Leach isn’t giving him too much trouble here. Maybe it’s time for a googly Rehan?
25th: Pakistan 81-3 (Babar 8, Shakeel 15) Babar shows off a graceful clip, finding space in Robinson’s leg to pick up three.
24th: Pakistan 78-3 (Babar 5, Shakeel 15) Shakeel takes a few from Leach.
23rd: Pakistan 76-3 (Shakeel 13, Babar 5) Robinson passes another, conceding only one.
22nd: Pakistan 75-3 (Shakeel 12, Babar 5) Shakeel lands another sweep on Leach, fending the ball off for four.
21st: Pakistan 70-3 (Shakeel 7, Babar 5) Ollie Robinson gets his first run of the innings, and a Shakeel single is the only punishment. Time for a few drinks.
A nice touch of England after Azhar’s dismissal.
20th: Pakistan 69-3 (Shakeel 6, Babar 5) A beautiful, beautiful photo of Babar. He sparkles on the pitch and stifles the rotation by cutting Leach through the midwicket for four.
19th: Pakistan 65-3 (Babar 1, Shakeel 6) Wood continues to sprint and Babar manages to break through with a single.
Azhar Ali says goodbye.
18th: Pakistan 64-3 (Babar 0, Shakeel 6) Stokes decides to group his defenders around new man Saud Shakeel – but the southpaw responds well, netting a sweep for four on his second ball. We then stay low, too low for Foakes too, because he runs away for four byes.
Carnage! Leach has his third on six, causing the ball to beat Shafique’s forward press and hit the front cushion. The batter doesn’t care about a criticism; who looked very, very out. Leach crosses Pakistan!
17th: Pakistan 54-2 (Shafique 26, Babar 0) After a bright start to the day, Pakistan is suddenly faced with this again. Once again Babar, their star man, needs to step up.
Here is Azhar Ali for the last time in international cricket. He receives a few handshakes from the opposition on entering. But… now he’s gone! The right-hander plays all around a sharp Leach delivery, trying to flick the side of the leg, and is pitched for a duck. The England players will shake his hand again, and his teammates form a guard of honor as he walks away. A fantastic Test career is coming to an end.
16th: Pakistan 53-2 (Shafique 25, Babar 0)
Oh dear. Masood tries the reverse sweep but only manages to get a lower edge when the ball shakes off the stumps.
15th: Pakistan 53-0 (Masood 24, Shafique 25) Masood fired Wood away for a single before Shafique collected four more, driving a gap between two defenders behind the square. The first two games have been great so far this morning, cutting the deficit in record time. Pakistan now lead by three.
14th: Pakistan 48-0 (Masood 23, Shafique 21) Jack Leach is set to tour as Root’s replacement. It’s a good start before it gets slightly short with the last ball of the plus; Shafique hits the back foot through the covers for four.
13th: Pakistan 43-0 (Masood 22, Shafique 17) Wood keeps flying and sending them short. But my word, that pitch is dead, with barely a carry as the ball eventually finds Ben Foakes’ gloves. Shafique pulls off a penultimate-plus pull, the ball hitting the short-legged shoulder before falling just short of square-legged Ben Stokes. Ollie Pope, the stricken man, seems to be fine.
12th: Pakistan 41-0 (Shafique 15, Masood 22) Two slips for Masood as Root continues around the wicket. He throws one and Masood comes down the field to hit it all the way for six! The southpaw is showing very little respect to his Yorkshire team-mate this morning.
11th: Pakistan 35-0 (Masood 16, Shafique 15) Mark Wood has the ball on the other side and immediately goes into bouncer mode. Shafique retires for a single on the third ball and Masood gets one himself with a controlled pull.
10th: Pakistan 33-0 (Shafique 14, Masood 15) Masood drives to the first ball of the day and gets a thick edge that runs away for four. The next shot is more convincing – Root is short and Masood drills offside for four more. And then Root beats the bat with a sharp off-break! Masood then recovers his third overbound, running down the track to roll over additional cover. A very entertaining start to the day.
Just then, let’s go. Joe Root has the ball.
Azhar Ali will almost certainly go out to bat in Test cricket for the last time today. It was a truly stellar career, but also a huge shame that most of it came up against Pakistan having to make the United Arab Emirates his homeland. This is only his 10th test match in Pakistan. I hope he gets a decent ovation when he makes his way.
Here’s a better catch-up from yesterday:
Hello people! On Sunday, the 23-year-old showcased his sporting prowess to the world with a truly scintillating individual performance.
Yes, that’s right, Harry Brook was back, reaching his third century in the series as England went 354 to take a 50 run lead in the first inning. He’s special, this kid – and the test numbers are pretty big right now: six rounds, 480 runs @ 80, SR: 92.13, 1 half century, 3 tons.
Pakistani openers Abdullah Shafique and Shan Masood managed to score nine overs before the end of the game, surviving against that famous duo of newcomers, uh, Jack Leach and Joe Root.
I’ll be right back – as always, send your thoughts, questions, song requests, etc.