After an English quartet hammered loads on Friday, a trio of house batters helped themselves to centuries to energy Pakistan to 499/7 on Day 3.
Agha Salman used to be batting on 10 with zahid mahmood on one on the different finish when dangerous mild stopped play, with Pakistan nonetheless 158 in the back of England’s large first innings general of 657.
England batsman Joe Root instructed Sky Sports afterwards: “A brilliant day. That last session, all the work we put in came to fruition.
Babar Azam. (AP Photo)
“It used to be attritional. We needed to be inventive right through the day and we were given our rewards on the finish,” he said.
Batting records continued to tumble on the placid pitch, however, with all four openers hitting hundreds in the first innings of a Test match for the first time.
Resuming on 181 for no loss, openers Imam-ul-Haq (121) and Abdullah Shafique (114) duly brought up their hundreds before England struck with their spinners.
Imam and Shafique’s 225-run collaboration nearly matched the 233-run opening stand Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett had forged for England.
After 65 overs of denying England a breakthrough, the Pakistan openers, however, fell in quick succession.
Abdullah became Will Jacks’ (3-132) first Test victim after attempting a cut shot and instead deflecting the ball into Ollie Pope’s waiting gloves.
Abdullah’s third Test hundred included 13 fours and three sixes.
Jack Leach removed Imam by luring the left-hander into stepping out only to find Ollie Robinson at long on.
Imam smashed 15 fours and two sixes in his third Test hundred — all three of which have come at Rawalpindi.
Azhar Ali (27) got an extra life on 20 when Crawley spilled him at leg slip but could not capitalize and fell lbw to Leach a short while later.
Babar was rock solid as usual. His England counterpart Ben Stokes tried to bounce him out on an unresponsive pitch and Babar had no problem pulling him repeatedly.
He eventually brought up his eighth Test hundred and first against England with a four off Stokes, making a little prayer before resuming batting.
England claimed four wickets in the final session to maintain their upper hand.
Robinson dismissed Saud Shakeel (37) in the first over after tea and Babar was the next to go, fluffing a cut shot against Jacks. Babar’s 136 was studded with 19 fours and a six.
“We have 3 giant wickets to soak up the morning, then we can attempt to crash some round and rise up to an affordable general,” said England’s Root.
Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ramiz Raja has described the state of the pitch at Rawalpindi as “embarrassing”, blaming it at the loss of Test fits performed there.