Azhar century puts Pakistan in strong position
BIRMINGHAM, England (AP):
Azhar Ali capitalised on two dropped catches to notch his 10th Test century and leave Pakistan just 40 runs behind England with a commanding 257-3 in the third Test yesterday.
Sami Aslam (82) missed out on his maiden Test hundred but frustrated England for 4-1/2 hours with a 181-run second wicket stand with Azhar, who was caught off the last ball of the second day after scoring 139 off 293 balls.
James Anderson had dismissed Mohammad Hafeez off his fourth delivery before Pakistan had scored, but England had to wait until after tea for the next success when 20-year-old Aslam was run out.
Azhar got reprieves on 38 and 69 against sloppy England fielding, hitting 15 fours and a six before Woakes found the outside edge just before stumps.
Azhar and Aslam defied the four-man England pace attack on a wicket that looked good for batting, with hardly any seam movement for the fast bowlers or turn for lone offspinner, Moeen Ali.
The Pakistan batting pair frustrated England with some sharp singles and took the total to 72-1 by lunch before adding further 82 runs in the second session.
Anderson should have got the wicket of Azhar before he had completed his half century, but Joe Root spilled a two-handed catch in the second slip in the first over after break.
James Vince's direct throw from short cover finally ended Aslam's brilliant knock after tea, but England's bowlers kept on struggling to get through the defences of Azhar.
Anderson was twice warned by on-field umpire Bruce Oxenford for running into the danger area as Azhar completed his first Test century outside Asia off 209 balls, glancing Stuart Broad to fine leg for a boundary. He had reached the mark with the help of 10 fours and a six.