Pakistan take control of Test
England’s hopes of winning the third and final Test and drawing the series were effectively ended after centuries from Mohammad Yousuf and Kamran Akmal helped Pakistan build a commanding lead on the third day in Lahore.
Liam Plunkett claimed the only wicket of the day when he dismissed nightwatchman Shoaib Akhtar for a Test-best 38 and a record-breaking 199-run stand for the sixth wicket saw Pakistan close 158 runs ahead on 446 for five.
Replying to England’s first-innings 288, Yousuf held the innings together with his 14th Test century and was unbeaten on 183 at stumps. He was followed to three figures by wicket-keeper Akmal during the evening session and he ended on 115 not out.
With just two days remaining, England need a dramatic turnaround in fortunes to rescue a victory and more realistically are facing their first series defeat in two and a half years.
The hosts resumed on 185 for four, with Yousuf on 84, but it was Shoaib who scored the majority of the runs in the first hour as he began to open up after a cautious start.
He was struck on the shoulder by Stephen Harmison but came through a testing spell and went on the attack when Shaun Udal was introduced after eight overs, hitting the spinner's sixth ball over deep midwicket and into the stands for six.
That helped Pakistan reach 222 for four when drinks were taken after an hour's play, with Yousuf two runs short of his 14th Test hundred.
He wasted little time completing his 183-ball century after the break, and his first as a Muslim, with a single moving him to 99 before a straight six off Udal took him to three figures on his home ground and also brought up the 50 partnership.
Shoaib launched another huge six off Udal, who was then replaced by Plunkett and the move paid off immediately as Shoaib lobbed a simple catch to Udal at deep cover off the Durham seamer’s fifth ball to end a 62-run stand.
Akmal was the new batsman as captain Inzamam-ul-Haq continued to watch from the dressing room after being forced to retire hurt the previous evening when he was struck on the wrist.
Another 18 runs were added before lunch, taking Pakistan to 265 for five at the interval, before England took the new ball one over into the afternoon session.
It provided little assistance for the bowlers though and Yousuf and Akmal produced several glorious cover drives to take Pakistan past 300.
England captain Michael Vaughan tried everything to split the pair but Akmal proved his ability with the bat and reached his 50 at the same time as completing a century stand.
Yousuf was next to be celebrating again as he moved onto 150 to the delight of the home supporters and the pair were still sitting pretty at tea on 392 for five.
The sixth-wicket stand took on record proportions - Pakistan’s previous best against England was 145 - and Kamran completed his second Test century with a cover-drive on the up off Plunkett for his ninth four from the 178th ball he faced.
Pakistan turned down the umpires’ first offer of bad light as they looked to press ahead and push for victory but the gloomy conditions soon meant the officials had little option but to take the players off.