BIRMINGHAM: Moeen Ali’s late counter-attack lifted England to 297 all out on a fluctuating first day of the third test against Pakistan in Birmingham yesterday. Fast bowler Sohail Khan took four wickets to put the hosts in trouble at 158 for five but Gary Ballance made a gritty 70 and Moeen 63 to leave the match delicately poised. Sohail, recalled to the side, removed Alex Hales, Joe Root, James Vince and Jonny Bairstow after Pakistan had won the toss in overcast conditions at Edgbaston. Hales was the first man out for 17, edging a fine delivery from Sohail to wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed. Root, who made 254 in the last test, was caught at first slip by Mohammad Hafeez for three and captain Alastair Cook was trapped lbw by Rahat Ali for 45 before England took lunch on 100 for three.
Vince played nicely for his 39 but, as so often in his fledgling test career, he failed to take full advantage and edged right-armer Sohail to second slip where Younus Khan took a fine low catch. Bairstow, on 12, tried to cut a ball too close to him and gave Sarfraz another easy chance and Pakistan sensed the opportunity to dismiss England for less than 200. But Ballance dug in and Moeen provided watchful support to take the hosts through to tea without further loss.
Ballance passed fifty for the first time since being recalled to the side and he struck seven fours in more than three hours at the crease before edging leg-spinner Yasir Shah to Sarfraz down the leg-side. Chris Woakes, on nine, gave the wicketkeeper his fourth catch, off Rahat, and Stuart Broad made 13 before he slashed Mohammad Amir high to Azhar Ali at third slip. Moeen’s cameo ended when he nicked Amir to Sarfraz and Sohail trapped James Anderson lbw to complete figures of 5-96 on his first test appearance for five years. The four-match series is level at 1-1. — Reuters