Harry Brook dazzled again with his third hundred in as many games as he and Ben Foakes earned England a first-innings lead of 50 over Pakistan in their bid to sweep the Test series 3-0.
Brook (111 off 150) shrugged off being at fault for the run out of captain Ben Stokes (26) shortly after lunch – at which point England were 143-5 and still 161 runs behind Pakistan’s first innings of 304 – by bossing a sixth- wicket stand of 117 with Foakes (64 off 121) as the tourists made 354 all out on day two in Karachi.
Foakes’ 51-run partnership with Mark Wood (35 off 41) for the eighth wicket put England in front before both perished going on the charge against spinners, while Ollie Robinson (29 off 20) produced a late cameo amid some questionable Pakistan tactics and field placings as he put on 30 with No 11 Jack Leach (9 no).
Robinson was last man out, bowled by Abrar Ahmed (4-150 from 34.4 overs), with Pakistan cutting their returns to 29 by stomps after closing on 21-0 from nine overs, a period in which Leach found some appreciable turn at times while bowling to Abdullah Shafique (14no) and Shan Masood (3no).
Brook was the story once again, though, as he eclipsed David Gower’s record for the most runs by an England batter in a Test series in Pakistan – Gower having amassed 449 in 1983/84.
Brook had come to the crease at 48-3 around 40 minutes into the morning session after Pakistan left-arm spinner Nauman Ali (4-126 from 30 overs) ousted Ben Duckett (26) and Joe Root (0) from successful deliveries – Duckett was pinned lbw by a ball that turned in sharply, ending a 58-run alliance with Ollie Pope (51 off 64) for the second wicket, while Root snicked to slip to depart for a golden duck.
Monday 19th December 4:45am
By the time Brook exited shortly after tea, he had propelled the tourists to within 39 runs of Pakistan, backed up his tons in Rawalpindi and Multan – this century clinched from 133 balls with a buttery cover drive – and trumped Gower, while his three sixes helped England to the record for the most maximums by a Test team in a calendar year, bettering the 87 India managed in 2021.
Brook was on 468 runs for this series when Pakistan seamer Mohammad Wasim (1-71) made him his maiden Test wicket, trapping the Yorkshireman lbw with a low nip-backer as he began to find some reverse swing with the aging ball on a pitch that had previously offered the pacers very little.
That lack of assistance for the quicks was the reason spinners Abrar and Nauman bowled all-but 17 of the 81.4 overs in the innings.
Brook and Foakes flourish as England take lead in Karachi
It was left to Foakes and Wood to marshal the tourists into a first-innings lead after England’s youngest-ever men’s Test cricketer Rehan Ahmed, who took the headlines on day one with two wickets on debut, slashed Nauman to midwicket for one.
Wood was eventually caught off Abrar at midwicket – Shafique with a tremendous one-handed grab – while Foakes swiped Nauman to mid-on where Shafique swallowed a more routine chance.
Brook, whose glittering array of shots included a gorgeous cover drive for four off Wasim shortly before lunch, added 40 with Pope for the fourth wicket before Pope was bowled by a peach of a delivery from Abrar that drifted in and then spun away to hit off stump.
Brook’s stand with skipper Stokes had reached 47 when a horror piece of running led to them being separated – Stokes wanted a third run, Brook did not and they ended up at the same end.
Stokes told Brook not to fret as he headed off and led the applause when Brook sealed his century late in the middle session during his stand with Foakes, who, in his first innings of the series after illness and non-selection, played particularly crisply through the on-side.
Foakes was given out caught at short leg on nine but successfully overturned the decision with technology proving the delivery had missed his bat and ballooned up off the pad.
Foakes switched his batting gloves for his wicketkeeping ones for the last knockings of the day, one which had begun with England 7-1 and 297 runs behind and ended with the game delicately poised.
Brook: I’ve been very confident in Pakistan
England batter Harry Brook: “It’s been a good day for us. We’ve put it back on them. It would’ve been nice to get a couple of wickets but there is quite a bit of rough, it’s starting to break up and crack. Hopefully that keeps happening, and we can get a bit of spin.
Everybody knows how we are going to play at the minute. This pitch is slightly lower than the other pitches. We have had to go about a little bit differently and play it by ear.
“I’m feeling good at the minute, hopefully it continues. I have scored a lot of runs in certain areas and I stick to that. The majority of my batting has been against spin and I’ve been very confident out here.”
Watch day three of the third Test between Pakistan and England, in Karachi, live on Sky Sports Cricket from 4.45am on Monday.