Azhar Ali's unbeaten 141 lifted Pakistan, but James Anderson had the final laugh as his 29th five-wicket haul helped England bowl their opponents out for 273. England enforced the follow-on, but the light was not good enough for play to resume. Anderson is now just two wickets away from picking up 600 Test wickets. The weather forecast for the next couple of days in Southampton is not too great and as a result, Pakistan could have done just enough to save the Test as a result. Pakistan will start Day Four trailing England by 310.
It was more of the same for Anderson at the beginning of Day Three, who got the wicket of Asad Shafiq caught at slip early on Day Three for just six. Rain interrupted play right after Anderson got his 597th wicket. Also, Root with that catch, moved up the ladder with 122, making him England's second most successful outfielder after Alastair Cook (175).
Play resumed after a short break with Fawad Alam joining his skipper Azhar. England had their tail up and it was going to be a humongous task for Pakistan to dig themselves out of this hole. The duo survived until play was stopped by rain again. As a result an early lunch was called.
Runs were still hard to come by when play resumed after lunch. This was just the 8th instance in 20 away Test innings since 2018 that Azhar had got to double digits. The floodlights was on and it looked to be just the perfect conditions for the fast bowlers. Jofra Archer kept testing the batsmen with some raw pace, but the Pakistan batsmen played him out quite very well.
However, it was off-spinner Dom Bess who got the wicket of Alam, caught behind for 21, bringing an end to a fighting 45-run stand with Azhar. Pakistan then huffed and puffed to go past the 100-run mark. Azhar has looked in good touch so far and Pakistan would have hoped that he and Mohammad Rizwan could build a big partnership. Azhar brought up his fifty off 137 deliveries - his second in away Tests since 2018. The previous one too had come against England at Lord's in 2018. During the course of this innings, Azhar also became the fifth Pakistan batsman to go past 6,000 runs.
The duo battled it out till tea but had an uphill task ahead.
The Pakistan batsmen looked more positive post tea. They were well set and began playing their shots. Rizwan and Azhar also put on 100-plus for the sixth wicket and were going strong. Azhar brought up his 17th Test ton and kept Pakistan's fight going. His second fifty came off just 68 deliveries, showing how much he had grown in confidence. Rizwan too reached his half-century - his second in as may Tests. This partnership would have given them much-needed belief that they could very well be on their way to avoiding the follow-on, which would have been a huge achievement.
The 138-run stand was eventually broken by Chris Woakes who had Rizwan caught behind down the leg side. This was also Pakistan's highest sixth wicket-stand in England. Rizwan played well for his 53 and had given Pakistan an outside chance of saving this Test. Yasir added 20 quick runs before edging one to Root at first slip off Broad to give the fast bowler his first wicket of the match. Shaheen Afridi followed him back into the pavillion, thanks to a brilliant catch down the leg side from Jos Buttler, who threw himself and grabbed the ball one-handed.
Anderson was then unlucky on two occasions in a single over - first Azhar was dropped by Rory Burns and then it was Zak Crawley who was the culprit, dropping Mohammad Abbas leaving the England fast bowler distraught. To further add to his woes, it was Broad who dropped Abbas again of Anderson, but recovered well in time to run him out.
In the end, Anderson finally got his fifth - his 29th five-wicket haul in Tests - when Naseem Shah edged it to Dom Sibley at slip. Anderson has gone level with Glenn McGrath and among fast bowlers, he is only behind Richard Hadlee, who has 36 five-wicket hauls in Tests.
England: 583 for 8 decl (Zak Crawley 267, Jos Buttler 152; Fawad Alam 2 for 46) lead 273 Pakistan (Azhar Ali 141*, Mohammad Rizwan 53; James Anderson 5 for 56) & 0 for 0 by 310 runs