53rd over: Pakistan 172-3 (Saud Shakeel 44, Imam 49) Wood is full and threatening, zoning in on stumps and pads. This will be a new challenge for these two now well set batters, the pitch still looks very flat. I wonder at what stage Stokes and co will start to get a but jittery? David Gower reckons the pitch looks the best for batting right now as it has game, he’d notch a few languid runs on this deck. 52nd over: Pakistan 171-3 (Saud Shakeel 44, Imam 48) More runs comfortably collected from England’ spinners. Imam thunders Leach through the covers to pick up another boundary. Stokes does indeed try to change it up, Mark Wood is coming on to whang some down.G’morning Kim Thonger! “Good morning James, I was rather hoping this match would last until Tuesday morning so that I’d have something fun to read at 6am in East Midlands Airport departure lounge. But since that’s now unlikely can anyone recommend an improving book instead? For clarity, Matt Hancock’s Pandemic ‘diary’ nonsense would NOT qualify.”I’ll keep my paymasters on-side Kim by directing you to the Guardian Bookshop where you’ll find *all manner of excellent titles at competitive prices*. This match is currently well poised like a tightly plotted novel. 51st over: Pakistan 165-3 (Saud Shakeel 43, Imam 43) Pakistan have dominated the twenty minutes since tea, Leach leaks eight runs from his over. Off the last ball of the over Imam plays a princely back foot punch through the covers for four. I can see Wood, Robinson and Anderson limbering up. Maybe it’s time for one of those Stokes spells too? The home crowd are starting to cheer every run with a bit more vigour. 50th over: Pakistan 157-3 (Saud Shakeel 42, Imam 36) Root continues in his roundarm fashion and just a single is eked from his over. Anderson walks back onto the field, his captain might well toss him the ball in a few minutes. 49th over: Pakistan 156-3 (Saud Shakeel 42, Imam 35) Two boundaries clobbered off Leach, Saud Shakeel is happy to trot down and loft over the in-field. This is excellent batting, Stokes might need to go back to his seamers here to break this building partnership, the threat from his spinners has been well neutered by this pair of left-handers. 48th over: Pakistan 147-3 (Saud Shakeel 34, Imam 34) A single to each batter off Root, Robinson and Wood scamper back onto the field but still no sign of Anderson. Maybe he’s getting primed for a stint.47th over: Pakistan 145-3 (Saud Shakeel 33, Imam 33) Imam smites a full ball from Leach just over the head of the fielder at mid-on, Rehan Ahmed perilously close in there. Pakistan have been excellent at balancing attack and defence. 46th over: Pakistan 137-3 (Saud Shakeel 32, Imam 26) Imam picks off a single, flaying Root into the deep but the boundary rider cuts it off. It looks a glorious early evening in Multan, clear skies and shadows just lengthening under the drooping sun. I can see frost on the car windscreens out of my condensation clad window in south London. The players take the field after the break, Joe Root is going to start things off. England have a few sub-fielders on the pitch, seemingly the seam trio are off the field. Let’s hope it isn’t a return of the Rawalpindi lurgy…I’m off for some speedy sustenance as the tv cuts back to the Sky studio with Stuart Broad under the Christmas tree rocking his ‘clerical menswear’ look. No comment.Updated at 10.22 GMTZaltz is on one:If I’ve crunched the numbers correctly, Ollie Robinson v Babar Azam in this Test – 7 balls, 0 runs, stumps hit twice – is the first instance in men’s Tests of a bowler bowling out the opposition number 3 in both innings without conceding a run. #PAKvENG— Andy Zaltzman (@ZaltzCricket) December 11, 2022
45th over: Pakistan 136-3 (Saud 32, Imam 25) That’s tea. Stokes keeps the field up for Leach, daring Imam and Saud Shakeel to play their strokes… and they call his bluff – Saud uses his feat to lift Leach for consecutive boundaries and there ends an intriguing session. England’s seamers picked up three mouth-watering wickets in the first hour before Pakistan took the second hour, patiently playing England’s spinners and picking off the runs on offer. Pakistan need 229 runs. England need 7 wickets. Don’t go anywhere. 44th over: Pakistan 128-3 (Saud 25, Imam 24) Wood sends down a mixture of yorkers and short balls, he hasn’t quite found his rhythm in this short spell and five runs are easily picked off, Pakistan chipping away at the vast target. We’ll have one more from Leach before the break. 43rd over: Pakistan 123-3 (Saud 23, Imam 21) Leach replaces Jacks who will have that shelled caught and bowled chance gnawing away at him the longer this partnership develops. Just a single off the over, Wood might squeeze in a final burst before tea. 42nd over: Pakistan 122-3 (Saud 22, Imam 21) Wood comes charging in, a slip in place and a leg gully. His speed is around the 85mph mark so he’s just cranking up really. Slightly off target with a couple of balls speared down the leg side which Ollie Pope does well to stop diving to his left like a ginger Gordon Banks. 41st over: Pakistan 119-3 (Saud 20, Imam 20) DROP! Imam bunts a full ball firmly back to Jacks at throat height and the bowler can’t hold on, the ball scorching his fingers and falling to the floor. Jacks turns his back in disgust and kicks the turf. He feels he should have caught it, they are always tricky. Mark Wood is coming back for a burst, Ben Stokes wants to break this partnership so gives his Durham teammate the nod to fire it up. 40th over: Pakistan 117-3 (Saud 19, Imam 19) A Root maiden. He’s enjoying this battle. 39th over: Pakistan 117-3 (Saud 19, Imam 19) Will Jacks once more, 90s boyband curtains bobbing up and down as he approaches the crease. Imam and Saud look comfortable against him, happy nudge and nurdle and keep the scoreboard ticking. 38th over: Pakistan 112-3 (Saud 15, Imam 18) Imam skips down and disdainfully plops Root back over his head for four. Lovely shot. Root is loving the battle though, all chirpy comments and glinting smiles. He’s on the prowl for his 50th Test wicket. 37th over: Pakistan 107-3 (Saud 14, Imam 14) Jacks continues and it is a tighter over than his first, the Surrey man’s high action sees more bounce extracted from the wicket but he’s slightly too short which allows both Saud and Imam to hang back in the crease. Athers impores him to bowl a bit fuller on the tv commentary. 36th over: Pakistan 106-3 (Saud 13, Imam 14) Tidy over from Leach, just a Saud single off it. ‘The Nut’ is flitting back and forth from over and around the wicket in order to keep the batters on their toes. 35th over: Pakistan 105-3 (Saud 12, Imam 14) Will Jacks is into the attack for his first bowl of the day. Seven runs are taken off him, Saud with a textbook back foot punch for four and a couple of neat late dabs to backward point. 100 up for Pakistan. The pitch still looks decent for batting, the result of this game still firmly up in the air for my moolah. 34th over: Pakistan 98-3 (Saud 5, Imam 14) Imam has shown intent since arriving at the crease, he’s featherlight on his feet as he rocks back and flat bats Leach powerfully through the covers for four. My toddler pads into the room clutching, a fluffy penguin and bellows ‘HELLOOOO! Tries to have a tap at my laptop kepypad and then pads off to find some mischief elsewhere. Sunday mornings on the OBO, lovely stuff. 33rd over: Pakistan 94-3 (Saud 5, Imam 10) Root whistles through his over, barely time for an OBO scribe to catch his breath or slurp his coffee. A maiden. Stokes is fielding at a sort of fly leg slip, there for the top edged sweep. 32nd over: Pakistan 94-3 (Saud 5, Imam 10) Leach whirls away, he’s getting decent grip and turn off this surface. Imam looks to get after him and knock him off his line, skipping down and chipping him down the ground for a couple. It was slightly uppish and a bit mistimed. Stokes tinkers with his field, he’s more than happy to see Pakistan play their shots. It’s cat and mouse at the minute. 31st over: Pakistan 92-3 (Saud 5, Imam 8) Root very nearly snares another… Saud Shakeel drops down for a sweep but the ball skips onto him and he top edges high into the Multan sky but Wood is too far back on the fence to be able to make up the ground to grab it. Root licks his lips and skips back to his mark. 30th over: Pakistan 90-3 (Saud 4, Imam 7) Jack Leach is summoned for a twirl and he’s on the money, decent flight and dip, probing away at the front pad. Just a couple nurdled off it from Imam. Joe Root is going to turn his arm over from the other end. 29th over: Pakistan 88-3 (Saud 4, Imam 5) Thanks Dan and hellOBO. What a time to be alive take over the reins. England are prising the Pakistan batting line up open with a masterclass of seam bowling. Each wicket so far in this innings duking it our for prime position in the highlight reels. That Wood wicket hooped in deliciously, a Kenco spiller of a delivery at this end. Imam is the new bat and he’s underway with a meaty outside edge off Wood that skims away wide of the slips for four.Updated at 09.02 GMTDaniel GallanAnd that’s drinks which means it’s time for Jimbo Wallace. I enjoyed that (despite the early wake-up). It’s been a great morning and a bit. First Pakistan were on top after claiming the five scalps they needed before dominating with the bat in a 66 run opening stand. But three wickets from the England seamers has them in control.Thanks all. Over to you Jim.Updated at 08.56 GMTWICKET! Shafique b Wood 45 (Pakistan 83-3)Wood has uprooted Shafique’s off stump with a ripper. No uneven bounce there. That is just excellent fast bowling off a good length that beat the batter for pace. The commentators suggest it kept a little low, and maybe it did a touch, but I’m not sure that’s why England have their third. Speed. That’s what did Shafique. The extra effort was made apparent by Wood tumbling over after he released the ball. Updated at 10.15 GMT28th over: Pakistan 83-2 (Shafique 45, Saud 4) That’s a stinker from Leach, the first poor ball England have bowled this session. The drag down is given the business by Shafique who bludgeons it disdainfully towards cow corner with a cross bat thwack. Shafique also picks up a single before Brook puts down a sharp chance at short leg. That came quickly off Saud’s bat. One of those ones that needs to stick. It didn’t this time.John Starbuck has some sympathy for England’s forgotten man:“Kevin Wilson is right about the players he mentions, but one he doesn’t is Will Jacks. The poor guy has bowled only four overs in all the match for no reward, and if he doesn’t get the chance to do any more he’s the most droppable player should Ben Foakes come back in the 3rd Test. Wake up, Stokesie!”27th over: Pakistan 77-2 (Shafique 40, Saud 3) Anderson toils away. He’s got two slips, a gully and a silly mid-off for Saud. Clear plan to get him to chase one away from his off stump. But Anderson is too full so Saud can nudge the ball for a single behind square on the leg side. That brings Shafique on strike and, again, the plan is clear. A short mid-on means he’ll look to target the stumps. Shafiue plays a lovely on drive but a diving Stokes cuts it off.26th over: Pakistan 76-2 (Shafique 40, Saud 2) Leach is back and immediately the Shafique looks more confident. He moves to 40 with a lofted inside out drive that plugs for two in the covers. Leach won’t mind a few shots.25th over: Pakistan 74-2 (Shafique 38, Saud 2) Anderson over pitches and Shafique times his checked drive well, but not well enough to reach the rope. He gets three for that. Anderson is looking for the sucker punch and almost gets it from round the wicket as he jags one back, narrowly missing Saud’s off stump as the batter leaves. After watching Babar get bowled shouldering arms I’d be terrified to make the same mistake and would play at everything. Then again, I’m not a Test cricketer.Kevin Wilson speaks for many English fans here when he says:“A couple of years ago I’d have been pretty cynical about England’s immediate Test future. We were relying on Root for runs and his captaincy was less than inspired. Anderson still holding the bowling together and surely he couldn’t go on forever? And now? Bairstow back with a bang and Crawley and Pope showing more consistency. Duckett back to provide solidity and assertiveness at the top of the order. Brook looking like he’s been here for years. Robinson immediately appears to be our Glenn McGrath and Leach continues to chip in with the ball. And at the heart of it all is Ben Stokes, the man for whom nothing is seemingly impossible.”Exciting times if you’re an England fan, that’s for sure.24th over: Pakistan 71-2 (Shafique 35, Saud 2) Wood continues and he slowly starts to pull his length back. If I were advising him I’d recommend he sticks to that short of a length area. Two of the balls he digs in fail to rise as they ordinarily would on a more bouncy strip. When the bowler is reaching those speeds that can be a real handful. Just a single off an inside edge for Shafique who deserves credit for keeping control amidst the chaos at the other end.There are cricket stats and there are cricket stats. This is one of the latter:The last time James Anderson took wickets as fifth bowler he dismissed Brian Lara taking 4-52 at Old Trafford, 2004— Mark Puttick (@GryllidaeC) December 11, 2022
23rd over: Pakistan 70-2 (Shafique 34, Saud 2) Robinson is round the wicket to the left handed Saud with a slip and three men catchers in the eye line. One is stationed at a short point. Not a silly point, but a dead-square gully of sorts. Not that they’re needed. Saud is watchful and neatly behind the line as he blocks out a maiden that is targeted at his sticks.Name change. I’ve been alerted that I should be using Saud, and not Shakeel, when referring to Saud Shakeel. So if you’ve noticed a name change, that’s why. 22nd over: Pakistan 70-2 (Shafique 34, Saud 2) Wood replaces Anderson. A quick commendation for Stokes who has rotated his bowlers perfectly, in my opinion. Wood has a leg slip but is targeting the stumps, as he should given the uneven nature of the surface. One short ball to Shakeel is swivelled with control out to deep square and that’s the only run from the over.21st over: Pakistan 69-2 (Shafique 34, Shakeel 1) A comparative deluge after the lunch break with Shakeel getting off the mark with a dab through an empty slip cordon and Robinson over stepping for a total of two from the over. There’s a leg slip but Robinson isn’t tempted to go short just yet. He sticks with a full length and Shafique is forward and resolute with a firm defence. He’s almost done a Babar later on by shouldering arms to a nip-backer that comes close to that off stump.Updated at 08.17 GMT20th over: Pakistan 67-2 (Shafique 34, Shakeel 0) Another maiden from Anderson who is frankly astounding. He just defies logic, doesn’t he. Immaculate lines with fielders catching in front of square. he’s asking questions with every ball. Shafique is answering them with a full face but he can’t get away. After scoring at 4.5 an over before the break, Pakistan have registered three runs for two wickets from five overs since lunch. 19th over: Pakistan 67-2 (Shafique 34, Shakeel 0) Brilliant from Robinson. He has his first wicket and a maiden as well. He must be such a nightmare to face with his height but it’s the seam that works a treat here. He kept probing on that length until he brought it back in. You’ve got to do something special to bowl Babar Azam and that was special. The ball before the wicket was full and invited the drive. Perhaps that made Babar reluctant to play at anything that wasn’t 100% drivable.WICKET! Babar b Robinson 1 (Pakistan 67-2)Babar has left the wrong one and lost his off stump! That’s a top delivery from Robinson. What did England have for lunch? A perfect length brings Babar forward. A perfect line creates doubt in the mind and has him shouldering arms. The perfect amount of seam off the surface brings it back into the right hander and directs it towards off the top of off. Superb bowling. He’s done the double on Pakistan’s skipper in this Test and England are firmly on top now. Get a load of this18th over: Pakistan 67-1 (Shafique 34, Babar 1) Anderson is moving it both ways now. One holds it’s line and tests Babar’s outside edge. Another hoops in – admittedly too much and Pope has to dive to save four runs down the leg side, but still, how does Anderson do that? He’s got a leg slip, a short cover, a short midwicket and a straight-ish short mid-on. He’s looking to hit the stumps. Babar gets off the mark with a tickle backward of square and Shafique blocks out the final ball.17th over: Pakistan 66-1 (Shafique 34, Babar 0) Two men catching in front of square on the off side for Robinson and Shafique is happy to bunt it with soft hands. A maiden for the lanky bowler who hits a good line back of a length.Updated at 07.56 GMTPlease go find a replay of that if you haven’t seen it yet. Truly one of the great deliveries of our time.That’s just about Ryan Harris at the Waca from Jimmy – what a freak show. Play forever. #PAKvENG— Adam Collins (@collinsadam) December 11, 2022
16th over: Pakistan 66-1 (Shafique 34, Babar 0) Rizwan couldn’t believe he’d just been bowled. He stood there for some time, incredulous that a ball angling in towards his leg stump could have taken the top of off. He’d collected two runs earlier in the over but he’ll now wish he settled for just one as he’d have been at the other end watching Shafique try to deal with that unplayable ball. Just marvellous from Anderson. WICKET! Rizwan b Anderson 30 (Pakistan 66-1)Jaffa! Peach! A beauty! A ripper! Any other suggestions to describe that ball? Save your breath. None of them will come close. Given the context of the game, given the context of the pitch they’re playing on, that is as good a delivery as you’ll ever see. He’s only five balls into his first over of the innings and Jimmy Anderson produces a gem. Angled in towards the right hander, just enough seam off the deck, it squared Rizwan and knocked the top of off stump. What a ball. What a player. What a legend.”Daniel, Rosy-fingered Dawn peeping over the horizon, even after breakfast. At last.”That’s lovely John Starbuck. Thank you. Yup, some rays peeping in through the window and the cries of my 2 year old to greet the dawn.And Jimmy’s got the ball in his hands as the players make their way to the middle.Lunch: Pakistan 64-0 (290 runs behind)That is undoubtedly Pakistan’s session. They snaffled five English wickets for 79 runs and then score at 4.26 an over without losing one of their own.Rizwan has been aggressive but it has been Shafique’s control that has stood out for the hosts. They’re a long way behind and England will still fancy themselves as favourites, but we’ve got a game on our hands.Leach opened the bowling and found drift and turn but little consistency as probing balls were all too often followed up by a dud. Wood thought he had the breakthrough when he clattered Rizwan on the pads from a skidding shirt ball but a small tickle of the bat saved the batter on review.I’d say that’s breakfast time. Hope you find something tasty in the fridge. See you soon.