SOUTHAMPTON, Aug 21 (IANS): Zak Crawley (171*) and Jos Buttler (87*) ran Pakistan ragged and helped England wrestle back control on Day 1 of the third Test between the two sides at the Ageas Bowl on Friday.
The pair continued the fightback they had put up towards the end of the second session and their partnership for the fifth wicket stands at 205 as England ended the opening day at 332/4.
Crawley was on 97 at Tea and he reached his century off the last ball of the first over in the third session. The pair then continued steadily, picking singles and doubles frequently to keep Pakistan on their toes.
Buttler then teed off in the 67th over bowled by Yasir Shah, hitting two sixes and a four to charge into the 40s. Four overs later, he reached his half-century.
Pakistan were then reduced to waiting for the second new ball to come as Crawley and Buttler went about ballooning their partnership.
Crawley seamlessly went past 150 and three overs later, Azhar Ali brought in Shaheen Afridi into the attack with the new ball. It was, however, the worst start the visitors could have expected with the new cherry as Afridi started off with a no ball, a leg bye and two more consecutive no balls before the effective second delivery of the over was dispatched for four by Crawley.
The shot brought up England's 300 and made it 15 runs off the first two balls. The batsmen ran singles off the last two to make it 17 for the over.
The pair continued merrily into the end of the day. Buttler creamed Naseem Shah for four through cover off the first ball of the last over of the day to bring up the 200-run partnership between the pair and at the end of it, the teams walked off with Crawley receiving warm applause from his teammates and opponents.
Before the Crawley-Buttler fightback, Pakistan had their noses in front. Electing to bat, the hosts lost opener Rory Burns (6) early as the southpaw nicked an Afridi delivery to Shan Masood at third slip. Dom Sibley (22) and Crawley looked good for their 61-run first wicket partnership before Shah trapped the former in front.
Skipper Joe Root and Crawley then looked steady as Pakistan bowlers tried to make further inroads as the pair shared a 41-run stand before Root was undone by a beautiful Naseem Shah delivery that took the outside edge of Root's bat and flew to keeper Mohammad Rizwan.Ollie Pope was then cleaned up by Shah for just three to bring Buttler to the crease.
Crawley looked in a league of his own at the other end as the tall right-handed played some exquisite shots on the off side and also looked rock solid defensively.
Brief scores: England 332/4 (Crawley 171*, Buttler 87*; Yasir 2/107) vs Pakistan