Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali both scored dashing fifties as England wrested the initiative from Pakistan on the fourth day of the third Test at Edgbaston. At stumps, England were 414 for five in their second innings, a lead of 311 runs. Bairstow was 82 not out and Ali 60 not out.
England’s sixth-wicket duo had added an unbroken 132 runs inside 27 overs ahead of Monday’s final day.
Pakistan will now have to set a new record for the Birmingham ground if they are to go 2-1 up in the four-match series, as the most any side have made in the fourth innings to win a Test at Edgbaston is South Africa’s 283 for five in 2008.
England had been well-placed at 120 without loss overnight. But openers Alastair Cook and Alex Hales both went early on Saturday as Pakistan took two wickets for no runs in nine balls.
Joe Root (62) and James Vince (42) stopped the rot during a third-wicket stand of 95.
But their run-rate slowed to barely three an over, albeit in the face of sometimes overly-defensive Pakistan field settings.
Leg-spinner Yasir Shah struck either side of tea to dismiss Root and Gary Ballance.
But the middle-order pair’s Yorkshire colleague Bairstow, in at 257 for four, scored briskly, just as opposing wicket-keeper Sarfraz Ahmed had done in Pakistan’s first innings.
Bairstow received excellent support from Ali, who played several fine shots of his own against a tiring Pakistan attack featuring just four frontline bowlers.
Play resumed Saturday with England captain Cook 64 not out and Hales 50 not out after they had erased a first-innings deficit of 103 with their maiden century stand in 18 innings as a Test-match opening pair.
But Pakistan soon removed both batsmen. Left-hander Cook (66) pushed out to first-innings five-wicket hero Sohail Khan and a diving Shah held an excellent catch at point. Mohammad Amir then turned 126 for one into 126 for two when Hales (54) edged a seaming delivery from the left-arm quick and Younis Khan held a difficult low chance at second slip.
Root, however, had a reprieve on 25 when he edged Rahat Ali only for Mohammad Hafeez to drop the low, two-handed, chance at first slip.
After lunch, Root pulled Shah for a boundary that saw him to a 108-ball fifty.
But Shah, bowling into the rough outside leg stump, had his revenge when Root, not for the first time this season, mistimed a sweep and gave a simple catch to Hafeez at short fine leg.
Vince, yet to make a fifty in nine Test innings, had been composed in equalling his highest score at this level of 42.
But he too fell in familiar fashion when, flirting outside off stump against the new ball, he wastefully guided Amir to second slip Younis.
England, 262 for four at tea, lost Ballance (28) on 285 when Shah, bowling round the wicket, had the left-hander well caught by leg slip Asad Shafiq off a genuine glance.
But Ali cover-drove Shah for four and, two balls later, he whipped him for another four wide of mid-on.
Bairstow clipped Sohail off his pads and swept Shah for two well-struck fours on his way to a 69-ball fifty.
Left-hander Ali, to chants of ‘Moeen, Moeen Ali’ from a crowd of more than 15,500, followed Bairstow to the landmark in 64 balls.
Bairstow then extended England’s lead beyond 300 when he swept part-time spinner Azhar Ali to the fine leg rope.