England’s couture bowlers took turns producing magical deliveries on day three of the second Test against Pakistan.
Having placed the hosts 355 to win in Multan, England could have gotten a little flustered after failing to make early inroads with the ball.
However, three superb dismissals during the afternoon session put Ben Stokes’ side back on course for a decisive series victory.
England lead the three-game series 1-0 after a Victory in 74 points in Rawalpindi.
As has often been the case over the years, it was Jimmy Anderson who made the initial breakthrough for England.
The 40-year-old was unused before lunch but quickly made his mark once he received the ball.
With Pakistan 66-0, Anderson headed the ball past Mohammad Rizwan from a good length, the right-hander stepped forward to defend only to see the ball drift away from the seam – possibly for the first time in the game – and hit the top of the stump.
Anderson has a number of beauties among his 674 Test wickets, but this was among his best and Rizwan could only stand and stare back in bewilderment before dragging himself off the field.
Three overs later, it was Babar Azam’s turn to stare in disbelief after lose your stump.
The ball was just beginning to offer a hint of reverse swing, but the Pakistani captain was still perfectly happy to drop a delivery from Ollie Robinson that threw a foot wide.
Babar, like just about any hitter on this surface, didn’t take into account that the ball was coming back so sharply to hit the woods. He did it, Pakistan was twice and Robinson walked away to celebrate.
England had to wait just under 10 more overs for their third wicket and it was done at the fast pace of Mark Wood.
Abdullah Shafique was well placed on 45, but he couldn’t cope with the combination of speed, reverse swing and sewing motion that Wood had to offer.
The ball was already spinning as Shafique leaned forward to block, but the ball came back further from the seam, snuck through the door and flattened the stump.
Wood himself may not have seen it clearly after falling as he tossed the ball around, but he completed a magical triumvirate of wickets for the England frontrunners on a pitch that offered them little before or from.