England toil away with little reward as Pakistan edge closer to Test victory

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England toiled away with little reward in the afternoon session as Pakistan edged closer to victory in the first Test.

Pakistan required just 86 more runs to win with five wickets remaining going into the final session on day five of the Test at Rawalpindi.

The tourists claimed crucial wickets, but with only three seamers on a pitch where the fast option looked the most likely to provide a breakthrough, they were unable to make the necessary inroads.

England’s daring declaration at tea on day four, setting Pakistan only 343 runs to win on a very flat deck – having hit 264 runs in just 35.5 overs in their second innings at a run rate of more than 7.5 – had left the match poised.

But the tourists struggled to make the required breakthroughs on the final day to put themselves in with a chance of what would have been a historic victory.

For a brief moment, England could have had a breakthrough just before tea when Agha Salman was given out lbw trying to sweep Jack Leach, the first time captain Ben Stokes had turned to his frontline spinner since lunch.

Primarily focusing on the seamers also reduced England’s over rate, with little time remaining in the day to take the required wickets, especially with the early sunset at Rawalpindi.

England's Will Jacks (centre) and Ben Duckett (second left) look disappointed
Pakistan required just 86 more runs to win with five wickets remaining (Anjum Naveed/AP)

Moments later, Azhar Ali should have made his way back to the dressing room, but his tickle behind was dropped by a diving Ollie Pope.

It had started well for England after lunch when Mohammad Rizwan was caught behind off James Anderson.

Saud Shakeel looked comfortable at the crease, having gone into lunch unbeaten on 63 and started the afternoon in the same manner, before he was caught by a diving Keaton Jennings at short extra cover for 76.

England continued to tinker with the field as they have done throughout the Test, including asking stand-in wicketkeeper Pope to stand up to Anderson.

Despite breakthroughs before lunch, Pakistan continued to score at a steady rate and close in on a first Test win against England since Lahore in 2005.

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