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Cook, Hales lead fightback with century stand

Openers take England to close on Day 3 on 120 without loss to erase deficit and open up 17-run lead against Pakistan

Cook, Hales lead fightback with century stand - Cricket News
Alex Hales and Alastair Cook put on their first century stand in 18 innings as opening partners.

Alastair Cook, the England captain, and Alex Hales associated for an unbeaten century stand leave the third Test against Pakistan at Edgbaston intriguingly poised at the close of the third day’s play on Friday (August 5).

At stumps, England was 120 without loss in its second innings for a lead of 17 runs. Cook was unbeaten on 64, with Hales batting on 50. This was the first time in 18 innings as a Test opening pair that the duo had put on a century partnership.

The openers also ensured England's deficit after the first innings was erased, when Pakistan had been bowled out for 400 in 136 overs at the stroke of tea to open up a 103-run lead. But while England had been kept in the field for long, that didn't affect Hales or Cook. Hales got into the flow with a cover-driven four off Mohammad Amir and Cook hit Sohail Khan for two square-cut boundaries in three balls.

Cook completed a brisk fifty in 67 balls with his fifth boundary, and Hales then took England into the lead with an elegant back-foot forcing shot through the covers off Sohail, who had marked his return to Test cricket by taking 5 for 96 in England’s first innings.

The last delivery of the day saw Hales complete a 116-ball fifty with a single.

Earlier, the Pakistan middle and lower order had added valuable runs before being bowled out. After Azhar Ali, whose 139 was his first Test century outside of Asia, and Sami Aslam (82), the 20-year-old opener, put on 181 for the second wicket on Thursday, Misbah-ul-Haq (56) and Sarfraz Ahmed (46 not out) shared a crucial stand for Pakistan.

Chris Woakes, in his first Test match on his Warwickshire home ground, led England's attack with 3 for 79, while Stuart Broad took 3 for 83.

Pakistan resumed on 257 for 3 after Azhar had been dismissed off the last ball on Thursday, but Younis Khan (21 not out overnight) was snared by Woakes, caught behind for 31 glancing down the legside. Broad then castled Asad Shafiq to leave Pakistan 296 for 5, still a run behind.

But Misbah and Sarfraz Ahmed had a productive association that ensured Pakistan would have a handy lead. They took Pakistan into lunch at 336 for 5, and Misbah carried on after resumption, crossing his third fifty in this series when he drove James Anderson for a sixth four in 93 balls.

However, when on 56 he was bowled by Anderson to end the stand of 62 with Sarfraz.

The first ball of Anderson's 30th over saw him barred from bowling in the rest of the innings after he received a third warning from Joel Wilson, the West Indian umpire, for running on the pitch, having been given two such cautions by Australia's Bruce Oxenford on Thursday.

Pakistan was then 368 for 8. After Pakistan's tenth-wicket pair had extended the lead beyond 100, Rahat, the last man, nicked Broad to Joe Root in the slips.

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