BIRMINGHAM, United Kingdom, (Pakistan Point News - APP - 4th August, 2016) - Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq patiently steered his side into a first-innings lead over England on the third day of the third Test at Edgbaston on Friday. At lunch, Pakistan were 336 for five -- 39 runs ahead of England's 297. Misbah was 44 not out, his so far two-hour innings featuring five fours in 89 balls. By contrast, Sarfraz Ahmed had made a typically brisk 20 not out off just 27 balls.
Pakistan had scored at a modest rate of barely three runs an over during Friday's morning session but they had now kept England in the field for nearly eight-and-a-half hours in total. With the four-Test series all square at 1-1, Pakistan resumed on 257 for three after Azhar Ali had been dismissed for 139 off the last ball of Thursday's play, following partnerships of 181 and 76 with Sami Aslam (82) and Younis Khan (21 not out) respectively.
All-rounder Chris Woakes, who had dismissed Azhar, struck again on his Warwickshire home ground when he got rid of Younis for 31. Younis has developed a habit of walking well across his stumps and it meant that when he tried to glance Woakes he was caught down the legside by Jonny Bairstow, rather than the ball evading the wicket-keeper's gloves. Misbah got on to the front foot to ease Stuart Broad for four through the covers -- his first boundary Friday taking him 40 balls.
But two balls later Misbah, showing the value of patience and good judgement, drove Broad down the ground. Broad though found his range when a full-length delivery smashed into Asad Shafiq's off stump for an 18-ball nought to leave Pakistan 296 for five, still one run behind. Misbah's single to third man off Broad saw Pakistan into the lead. Joe Root, wearing a helmet, came into an extraordinarily close short third slip position in a bid to counter Misbah's tactic of playing defensively at fast bowler Steven Finn with soft hands.
But he appeared to be far too near the batsman and an edge by Misbah off Finn flew past Root for four. Ahmed then cover-drove Broad for a far more conventional boundary. Pakistan's batsmen have found Moeen Ali to their liking this series and Misbah reverse-swept him four when the off-spinner came on shortly before lunch. Wicket-keeper Ahmed followed up with two swept fours in as many balls off Ali.