Despite losing an early wicket, England managed to recover incredibly well to finish day one of the third Test at Southampton on 332 for 4, thanks to a magnificent century from Zak Crawley (171*) and a well-composed 87* by Jos Buttler. The duo have put on more than 200 runs for the fifth wicket and a similar performance on day two could see them bat Pakistan out of the match and the series.
With this knock, Crawley at 22 years and 220 days also becomes the youngest England batsman to score 150-plus in an innings.
Earlier, in the first session, there was a lot of nip in the air early on and as a result, the ball shaped in and out beautifully. Shaheen Afridi, who has been among the wickets this series managed to get the wicket of Rory Burns, caught at third slip for just 6. His poor form in the series continued as Burns has scored just 20 runs in four innings so far. The England opening partnership once again failed to provide a good start, much to the delight of the Pakistani bowlers. In fact, the opening stand against Pakistan since 2018 has averaged just 14.8 from seven innings.
The fast bowlers were right on the money in their first spell. In fact, Shaheen has induced 17.6% false shots in his first spell in this series. In no other spell has he managed to induce more than that. Despite losing the early wicket, Dom Sibley and Crawley played positively, looked to rotate the strike on a regular basis, which ensured that the spoils where shared in the first hour.
Just when the partnership between Sibley and Crawley was looking good, Yasir Shah trapped Sibley in front for 22. Charging down the track, Sibley missed a straight delivery and Yasir Shah rapped him on the pads. Sibley reviewed, but Hawk-Eye showed that the ball would have crashed into middle stump. Crawley had shown excellent application till then. He soon brought up his fourth Test fifty.
In the second session, England batsmen were cautious and at the same time were putting away the bad deliveries into the fence as they brought up their 100. During the course of his innings, Root also became the third English batsman to score 1,000 runs against Pakistan, after Alastair Cook (1,719) and David Gower (1,185). But he did not last too long after that after as he nicked a ball from Naseem Shah that shaped away a little late and was safely pouched by Mohammad Rizwan for 29. Ollie Pope's stay at the crease did not last too long either as he was clean bowled by Yasir for just three after the England batsman was caught on the crease.
The onus to steer England to safe waters would have been be on the well-set Crawley and he did not disappoint. Along with Buttler, Crawley built a steady partnership, which was much-needed especially after they had lost a couple of wickets. The Pakistani bowlers tried everything - from bowling short to full - but the batsmen did not fall prey to their tactics.
Crawley brought up his maiden Test century in the first over after tea off 171 deliveries - a terrific effort for someone who was fearless in his approach and at the same time respected some good bowling. Buttler soon followed suit, bringing up his 18th Test fifty off 86 deliveries.
At the start, England won the toss and opted to bat. The home side made just one change with Jofra Archer coming into the side in place of Sam Curran. Pakistan on the other hand remained unchanged.The toss was delayed by a few minutes due to rain, but play got underway on time.
England 332 for 4 (Zak Crawley 171*, Buttler 87*; Yasir Shah 2/107, Naseem Shah 1/66) vs Pakistan