by Rex Clementine

There are less than 500 England supporters in Rawalpindi but if England keep playing Test match cricket like this, don’t be surprised if their fans change holiday plans and travel to Pakistan to support their cricket team. Usually there are about 5000 Barmy Army fans travelling with the team. If they pull this game off, there could be more touring Pakistan in the next couple of days.

When Ben Stokes came up with a bold declaration with the score at 264 for seven, setting Pakistan a target of 343, a lot of people felt that England had offered the game on a platter with four sessions left in the game. But this is the new, bold England. They don’t mind losing a game or two playing with the aggression they do. The bigger picture is play attacking cricket, take the game to the opposition and leave no stone unturned in a bid to win a game.

Pakistan can not be ruled out of winning this game. They have reached 80 for two and need a further 263 in two and half sessions; with not much play expected in the final session due to bad light.

But England have things under control. They dismissed first innings centurion Abdullah Shafique cheaply. He is the type of player who can play the waiting game with a reputation or great application.

But the turning point in the game perhaps was when Ben Stokes had his opposite number Babar Azam caught behind. You sensed that this was a huge moment in the game as there was pin drop silence at the ground.

Pakistan are also not sure whether Azhar Ali will be available to bat. The former captain copped a nasty one on his thumb from Ollie Robinson. If he doesn’t bat, England will feel half the job done. But having said that, Pakistan have a habit of producing match winners out of nowhere.

Things could have been lot worse for Pakistan had Keaton Jennings not dropped Saud Shakeel in the penultimate over of the day. The third wicket stand between Shakeel, and Imam-ul-Haq is now worth 55 runs.

England had surprised a few people with their socring rate in the first innings going at 6.5 runs an over. In the second innings they proved that they could do it better having gone at 7:36 runs an over.

In Pakistan’s first innings Will Jacks returned figures of six for 161. An 11th hour replacement in the playing eleven, the Surrey cricketer is a part-time bowler in county cricket, but he’s had a dream Test debut.