Rawalpindi: England struck with four late wickets on Saturday to revive its hopes of victory against Pakistan with two days left in the first cricket Test where seven batters have so far scored centuries.
Pakistan reached 499-7 in its first innings on the lifeless wicket and still trailed by 158 runs at stumps on the third day with play again ending early because of fading light.
Captain Babar Azam (136), Imam-ul-Haq (121) and Abdullah Shafique (114) all hit tons on a run-friendly wicket which even Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ramiz Raja feels is not a great advert for Test cricket.
But England hit back after tea when Ollie Robinson broke the 123-run stand between Babar and debutant Saud Shakeel (37). Robinson found the outside edge of Shakeel’s bat and Babar, who hit 19 fours and a six in his eighth hundred, played a cut against off-spinner Will Jacks (3-132).
Veteran James Anderson (1-47) used all his 175-Test experience on an unresponsive wicket for the bowlers, before he finally got his first wicket in his 19th over when Mohammad Rizwan (29) was caught at short mid-wicket.
Babar and Shakeel denied England success in the middle session and guided Pakistan to 411-3 by tea with the Pakistan skipper dominating both spin and pace.
Babar was the seventh batter in three days to notch a hundred in England’s first Test in Pakistan in 17 years after the visitor had posted 657 all out on the back of hundreds from England openers Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett, Harry Brook and Ollie Pope.
Babar used his feet well against the spinners and raised his half century off 68 balls when he lifted Jack Leach (2-160) over wide mid-on for a six after lunch.
He reached his hundred off 126 balls when he thumped a backfoot cover-driven boundary.
Earlier, Imam and Shafique struck centuries after Pakistan resumed on 181-0 before throwing away their wickets.
Brief scores: England (1st innings) 657 vs Pakistan 499/7 in 136 overs (B Azam 136, Imam-ul-Haq 121, A Shafique 114, W Jacks 3/132)