Pakistan assumed control of the third Test match against England at Edgbaston thanks to a fine innings of 139 from Azhar Ali and an assured 82 from Sami Aslam. The 31-year-old right-handed batsman – who celebrated reaching his century by performing a series of press-ups – laid the platform from which Pakistan should go on to win the game in Birmingham.
The hosts – who were bowled out for 297 on day one – actually started the day in impressive fashion, with Jimmy Anderson removing opener Mohammad Hafeez for a four-ball duck. But it was downhill from there for Alastair Cook's men as the much-maligned Pakistan batting order took advantage of some wayward bowling and an increasingly benign wicket to end the day on 257/3.
Aslam, a 20-year-old batsman playing in only his third Test match, showed remarkable maturity to thrive in an alien situation. He struck nine fours and a meaty six during his innings before an unfortunate mix-up, and a smart piece of fielding from James Vince, cost him the chance of scoring a century.
However, Ali – his partner in their eye-catching 181-run stand – bounced back from his recent form slump to score his tenth Test century. He was, however, given two reprieves en route to the landmark. On 38, Ali was given a lifeline when Joe Root dropped him off Anderson at second slip, and on 69, he offered up a more difficult return catch to Moeen Ali.
Following the run-out of Aslam, Ali and his new partner Younis Khan shared a partnership of 76 before the centurion was dismissed by the luckless Chris Woakes from the last ball of the day. Despite that setback, Pakistan are now a mere 40 runs behind and still have seven wickets left in hand in their first innings.