England reached the close on day three with a lead in terms of scoreboard position, with a 158-run lead and three wickets to claim. And after two tough days in the field, they returned to the pavilion with a sense of accomplishment after an excellent final session, in which they claimed four wickets, including Babar Azam’s key scalp for 136.
“It was a brilliant day,” Root told Sky Sports. “That last session… all the hard work we put into it really paid off. It was very exhausting. We had to be really creative all day, had to try some different things, keep chasing wickets, and we got our rewards on the back of really hard work.”
A notable feature of England’s innings was their determination to post attacking pitches everywhere, with Stokes ringing the substitutions to keep the batsmen on their toes, with up to four men around the bat for the spinners and close catchers for the wicket. And as Root admitted, the pursuit of breakthroughs had the dual effect of keeping the team’s spirits high in the face of adversity.
“That’s the most important thing,” Root said. “If you feel like you don’t stand a chance, that makes it extremely difficult, but the way we’ve stuck to our job, we’ve tried different things, tried to keep it fun and interesting, and I suppose they had to think outside of themselves a little bit.” also the box and asking questions about what we were trying to do. To be so far behind the game here with them still gives us a very good chance to win the test game. “
Nevertheless, Pakistan remains strong in the game after a nice at bat, in which Shafique and Imam-ul-Haq both completed their centuries in an opening score of 225.
“First of all congratulations to the England team, they played great,” Shafique told Sky Sports. “To make 506 [in a single day] is a special total of them. We just kept in mind that we had to play well because the openers set the tone for the rest of the team. And we have established a nice partnership there, which also gives our side good confidence.
“It was a good day for the Pakistan side as we played well,” he added. “And yes, we lost some wickets here. But we are in a good position. In the first two days the wicket is good to save but the ball is now spinning so we will get some favor with the wicket in the third and fourth day, so it will be a good game.”
England’s first challenge on day four will be to round off Pakistan’s tail cheaply, but Root had no doubts about how their own second innings would play out given everything this Test team has already achieved under the Stokes captaincy.
“With our team and the way we play cricket now, we will make sure we give ourselves a chance to win the game,” he said. “We are not really interested in a draw. We want to make sure we give ourselves the best chance to win the game.
“If Pakistan is good enough to beat us then so be it, but we’ve got three big wickets tomorrow. And then we’ll try to crash around a few and get ourselves on a decent total, but I’m sure that there is still a lot of entertaining cricket to be played in the coming days.”
Shafique also knows what is in store for him and firmly believes that Pakistan is ready to respond in kind when the time comes.
“We have a positive approach there too,” he said. “There is no approach to going for a draw because the way England are playing they will play attacking again. It will give us a good total so we will battle it out.”
Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket