England fight back to leave third Test in the balance

Birmingham, England (AP) — Captain Alastair Cook and Alex Hales led a strong England comeback as the opening pair wiped out Pakistan’s 103-run lead in the third test on Friday.

England finished the third day on 120-0 in their second innings — a lead of 17 runs — with Cook unbeaten on a meticulous 64 and Hales (50) getting his first half-century of the series off the last ball of the day.

Earlier, Pakistan lost their last five first-innings wickets for 42 runs, and were dismissed for 400 at the stroke of tea after resuming on 257-3 and chasing England’s first innings of 297.

Misbah-ul-Haq hit 56 and Sarfraz Ahmed an unbeaten 46 to push Pakistan’s lead.

James Anderson (2-54) triggered Pakistan’s collapse by bowling Misbah before he was ordered out of the attack for the rest of the innings after running into the danger area for the third time when Pakistan led by 71 runs.

Chris Woakes (3-79) stretched his tally of wickets in the series to 21 while Broad claimed 3-83.

England seamers took two early wickets in the morning before Pakistan had matched England’s first-innings score, but Misbah was defiant and added 62 runs with Ahmed for the sixth wicket.

Woakes had Younis Khan (31) caught behind and Asad Shafiq couldn’t score off 18 deliveries before being clean bowled by Broad with Pakistan adding 79 runs in the first session.

Misbah and Ahmed appeared untroubled by the seamers and the Pakistan captain raised his half century off 93 balls with six fours when he drove Anderson behind point for a boundary.

But once Misbah departed, Pakistan quickly lost Yasir Shah (7) and Mohmmad Amir (1) before Ahmed frustrated England by adding 32 more runs when Anderson was taken out of the attack.

Cook dropped No. 11 Rahat Ali, which would have given Steven Finn his first wicket, before Broad wrapped up the innings from the other end when Joe Root grabbed a two-handed catch.

Cook and Hales entered with England in crisis and left with the hosts dreaming of victory after carefully negotiating the spin threat of Yasir Shah during the entire 2 1/2 hour final session.

Cook continued his sublime form in the series and completed his half century with a straight driven boundary off Amir.

Hales waited patiently for loose deliveries and raised his 50 off 116 balls with nine fours on the final delivery of the day as Pakistan bowlers failed to separate the pair in 35 overs.

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