England 184 (Cook 70) and 235 for 6 (Root 68, Buttler 66*, Bess 55*) lead Pakistan 363 (Babar 68*) by 56 runs
Jos Buttler, basically in his IPL post-season, and Dom Bess, a 20-year-old debutant for whom batting is his second suit, found England's match-cause beaten and bloodied in a gutter, resuscitated it, and gave it session-long TLC.
Thanks to a sublime period of bowling from virtually the entire Pakistan attack, England were still 69 runs in the hole, and six wickets down, when Buttler and Bess came together. But after tea, the pair batted with spunk. They quelled Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Abbas who had run riot during parts of the day, defused Shadab Khan who had worked himself into a nice rhythm, and by stumps had forced Sarfraz Ahmed into defence with their as-yet unbroken 125-run stand. England are still only 56 runs ahead. The second new ball is only two overs away. But there is hope yet. Hope that this lead can be nudged and nurdled and massaged and stretched to 150. Hope for a another famous Pakistan fourth-innings collapse.
The resistance was built on good sense. At no point did Bess or Buttler attempt a sustained counterattack. They just took note that the last of the reverse swing Pakistan had generated had disappeared, and so set about only venturing runs off the bad balls. Buttler prospered largely on the leg-side, putting away the balls aimed at his body. Bess was much more of an off-side man, all but nine of his runs coming there.
Each had reached their fifties before stumps. Buttler had a sober 66 off 130 deliveries - his pacing perfectly suited to this difficult Test-match situation, even though he was playing rollicking knocks for Rajasthan Royals not long back. It was valiance, meanwhile, that characterised Bess's innings. He wasn't always in control of his shots, and misread Shadab repeatedly. But he shook off the plays-and-misses and looked for runs right through his innings. Sarfraz, Pakistan's captain, helped them out a little by hedging his bets. He had token slips in place, but otherwise had spread the field as if he was just killing time until the second new ball became available.
As good as that partnership was, though, Pakistan's late-afternoon burst was perhaps even better. Amir bowled another magic delivery, bringing his tally of superbly unplayable balls to two in this Test. In the first innings, Cook had been his victim, this time: Jonny Bairstow. The ball curved out of Amir's hands - reverse probably - pitched just on a good length, and snorted its way back towards Bairstow, his bat and pad wide apart. It then screamed through to clatter the top of middle and off.
Bairstow's was the second dismissal in a four-wicket sequence that cost Pakistan only 19 runs. The first in that stretch to fall had been Dawid Malan, edging Amir behind to Sarfraz, who threw himself beautifully to his left to complete a low catch. After Bairstow was dismissed, Ben Stokes punched a Shadab delivery to midwicket, who leapt and stretched athletically to reel it in. Then Joe Root who, until that stage, was the only England batsman to achieve any manner of fluency in this innings, was struck in front of the stumps by an Abbas delivery that seamed in from well outside off stump. The score at 110 for 6, he held his head in his hands before he left the field.
Pakistan had also found the morning session productive. Their last-wicket pair put on a further 13 runs together, to take the first-innings lead to 179. Then they got both the openers before lunch. Abbas nailed Alastair Cook in front with another nip-backer and Mark Stoneman was bowled by a Shadab delivery that spun very low out of the rough. Stoneman's innings, which brought him 9 off 45 balls, had been dire.