England v Pakistan: Zak Crawley hits maiden Test century

Zak Crawley’s sparkling maiden Test century put England in command of the third and final Test against Pakistan on day one at the Ageas Bowl, Southampton.

The 22-year-old, playing in his eighth Test, oozed elegance for his 171 not out.

That guided England from the difficulty of 127-4 to 332-4, a position from which they are primed to win the series.

On a blustery day, Pakistan had to battle a fiercely strong wind that whistled down the ground throughout.

At the end of it, they were left facing a huge battle to avoid their first series defeat by England since 2010.

After the second Test on this ground was ruined by bad weather, there was a sense of foreboding when rain arrived just as the captains walked out to toss up.

When the shower passed, England skipper Joe Root took the opportunity to bat on the slow, dry pitch while at the same time sending Pakistan out to field in the miserable conditions.

With the sun making only fleeting appearances and the wind swirling around the empty stadium, it was Crawley who illuminated proceedings in an innings that gradually sucked the enthusiasm from the tourists.

There were periods either side of lunch when the contest between bat and ball was even, not least when Root and Ollie Pope fell in the space of four overs.

Buttler, though, arrived first to support, then came to life in an evening session where England rattled along at almost five an over.

The second new ball was also dispatched as Pakistan gradually lost their way.

By the close, England had already piled on enough to be able to take advantage of a pitch that could deteriorate, perhaps with some uneven bounce for the extra pace of Jofra Archer, restored to the side in place of Sam Curran.

Further reading — BBC Sports

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