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Buttler and Bess give England hope with 125 stand – report & highlights

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First Test, Lord’s (day three)
England 184 & 235-6: Root 68, Buttler 66*, Bess 55*
Pakistan 363: Babar 68 retired hurt
England lead by 56 runs
Scorecard

Jos Buttler and Dom Bess both made fifties to give England a lead of 56 in the first Test against Pakistan.

The recalled Buttler and debutant Bess came together when England still needed 69 to make Pakistan bat again and shared an unbroken stand of 125.

Buttler reached 66 not out and Bess an unbeaten 55 to take England to 235-6.

Despite 68 from captain Joe Root, a collapse of four wickets for 19 runs had earlier left England in danger of losing by an innings inside three days.

Pakistan remain strong favourites, but further occupation by England’s seventh-wicket pair and healthy contributions from the tail could give the hosts an outside chance of pulling off a remarkable victory.

Poor weather is forecast at Lord’s on Sunday, when Pakistan are due to have the second new ball available.

The tourists have dominated the majority of the match, showing superiority with bat, ball and in the field until late on day three.

However, for as long as Buttler and Bess remain together, England’s slim hopes will continue to grow.

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Buttler and Bess rescue England

Buttler, who played his last Test at the end of 2016, was given a surprise recall to bat at number seven on the strength of his form in the Indian Premier League.

Off-spinner Bess was handed a first cap after Somerset team-mate Jack Leach suffered a broken thumb. The 20-year-old made his maiden first-class hundred for the MCC against county champions Essex in March.

When they came together, England were in disarray and Pakistan were rampant. However, in glorious sunshine and on a pitch suited to batting, they absorbed the pressure before cashing in as the shadows lengthened.

Buttler, so destructive in limited-overs cricket, showed restraint to nudge and work the ball into gaps. He played occasional drives or hooks on the way to only his second first-class half-century in three years.

Bess showed the maturity of a player far beyond his years and experience, playing some classical cover drives when the bowlers over-pitched.

Between them, they showed the patience, discipline and control that had been beyond the majority of England’s batsmen during the rest of the Test. By the end batting was being made to look easy.

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Top-order crumbles around Root

Though Pakistan enjoyed helpful conditions after England opted to bat on day one, the home side gifted wickets away to be bowled out for 184.

In the second innings England’s top-order were again found wanting on a surface that held no demons bar the occasional uneven bounce.

Root, who played an awful drive in the first innings, looked to have learned from his mistake to compile a half-century of deft touches and flicks. The rest crumbled.

Alastair Cook was lbw to a Mohammad Abbas inswinger. His opening partner Mark Stoneman somehow scratched to nine before going back to leg-spinner Shadab Khan to be bowled. His place is under serious threat.

The collapse came after Root and Dawid Malan added 60 for the third wicket.

Malan and Jonny Bairstow fell in the same Mohammad Amir over. Malan poked at the ball to be well caught by wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed and Bairstow loosely pushed at a good ball that took his off stump.

Ben Stokes chipped Shadab to mid-wicket and, when Root was trapped in front by Abbas, England had lost four wickets in 37 balls. The game looked gone, but then came Buttler and Bess.

Pakistan finally face resistance

Until Buttler and Bess dominated the final session on day three, Pakistan had been in firm control of this match.

They have reaped the benefits of an extended period of preparation and, for so long, have played the English conditions better than England.

Without injured batsman Babar Azam, the tourists took their overnight 350-8 to 363 when the ninth and final wicket of Abbas fell. Then, they set about the England batting.

Abbas and Amir were excellent, leading an attack that not only carried a constant threat but also starved England of any early opportunities to score.

Leg-spinner Shadab twirled away from the Pavilion End, turning the ball down the slope and playing tricks out of the rough – the delivery that bowled Stoneman scuttled through without bouncing.

Late in the day they were forced to retreat and the body language of some of the fielders began to look a little despondent.

Still, the bowling remained wholehearted and the prospect of the second new ball on Sunday means that Pakistan could still wrap up victory very quickly.

Joe Root

Analysis – England top six has to do better

Test Match Special summariser Michael Vaughan

England’s top order always seem to find ways of getting out and there is always a little collapse around the corner with this England team. Your top six has to be consistent and Joe Root is too good a player to keep getting out for fifty.

He was really fighting today because he was in no sort of rhythm. Malan is a concern for me, he does seem to hang back and there were too many dot balls, and Stoneman went back to a ball he should have been forward to.

England always seem to find themselves 100-5 and that’s always a concern for the Test team.

I look at the top order, in white ball cricket they all know their roles. The Test top-order I don’t see any partnerships I look at with any confidence.

Bess and Buttler timed the ball nicely and ran hard, I haven’t seen that from the top order in a long time. If they get out of this with anything it will be a miracle.

Mohammad Abbas celebrates taking the wicket of England's Joe Root

How’s stat?

  • Bess – aged 20 and 308 days – is the third youngest to score fifty on debut for England, after Denis Compton and Haseeb Hameed
  • Pakistan have gone three Test series unbeaten against England; winning twice in the United Arab Emirates before holding the hosts to a 2-2 draw in England in 2016
  • England haven’t suffered a Test series defeat to Pakistan on home soil since 1996; they have recorded two victories and two draws since then
  • England last lost a home Test series in June 2014 (v Sri Lanka); claiming five wins and two draws since

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