Guwahati: England completely dominated the first day of the third and final Test against Pakistan, at Southampton, as they finished the day with 332/4 on the board riding on an unbeaten partnership between Zak Crawley and Jos Buttler.
After all the speculations about the weather and light, we got a totally contrasting day at Southampton this time. We got to see a full day’s play on what turned out to be a pitch which suited the batsman.
After winning the toss and batting first earlier in the day, England didn’t get off to the perfect kind of start they would have wanted to, as they lost Rory Burns(6) to Shaheen Afridi in the 5th over itself, bringing in Zak Crawley to the crease at 12/1.
Crawley and Sibley looked good together as they saw off the first hour of the game without losing anymore wicket, with England at 48/1 at the end of the first hour.
But Sibley didn’t last long as he was struck plumb in front of the stumps trying to use his feet down the pitch, and was dismissed for 22. Following Sibley’s dismissal, Crawley and England skipper Joe Root had to see off a tricky situation, as the Pakistani bowlers kept beating the outside edge with both the English batsmen flirting at balls in the off-stump channel.
England went into lunch putting up 91/2 on the board, with Crawley bringing up his half-century with beautiful straight drive just before lunch.
Naseem Shah removed the English skipper for 29 after lunch, with a peach of a delivery which nipped off the pitch after pitching in middle and off, clipping the outside edge of Root into the gloves of Mohammad Rizwan. Ollie Pope fell for 3 to Yasir soon after Root’s dismissal and that brought in England’s first match victory hero, Jos Buttler to the crease with England in a spot of bother at 124/4.
Jos Buttler looked in great balance from ball one out in the middle, and with Crawley well set, they both added 60 runs before going into tea, thus putting up a total of 184/4 at tea for England.
Post Tea, both Batsman took advantage of the tiring Pakistan attack and put the foot in the gas. The third session completely belonged to England as they ended the Day at 332/4 with Zak Crawley and Jos Buttler putting an unbeaten 205 runs partnership.
Zak Crawley is unbeaten on 171 as he reached his maiden Test century and Jos Buttler, on the back of a match winning knock in the first Test, is giving him good company with an unbeaten 87.
Both Crawley and Buttler looked in siblime form with the bat, and with the pitch expected to ease out even more for batsmen as the match progresses, England can expect Crawley and Buttler to pile up more runs in the first innings. For Pakistan, Shaheen Afridi and Naseem Shah looked good with the new ball as they got the ball to move off the surface and beat the outside edge of the English batsmen regularly in the morning session of Day I, and a lot will depend on these two if Pakistan want to make a comeback in the game.
Their best chance going into Day II would be to pick up early wickets in the first hour of play. If not, England will take this match away from Pakistan, with two set batsmen already looking good in the crease.
ENGLAND 1ST INNINGS
RJ Burns c Shan Masood b Shaheen Shah Afridi 6
DP Sibley lbw b Yasir Shah 22
Z Crawley not out 171
JE Root c Rizwan b Naseem Shah 29
OJ Pope b Yasir Shah 3
JC Buttler not out 87
Extras: (lb 11, nb 3) 14
TOTAL (90 Ov, RR: 3.68) 332/4
Fall of wickets: 1-12 (Rory Burns, 4.3 ov), 2-73 (Dom Sibley, 18.2 ov), 3-114 (Joe Root, 35.2 ov), 4-127 (Ollie Pope, 38.6 ov)
Shaheen Shah Afridi 18 2 71 1
Mohammad Abbas 21 3 52 0
Yasir Shah 28 3 107 2
Naseem Shah 17 4 66 1
Fawad Alam 6 0 25 0