Imam-ul-Haq’s 60 helped set up a gripping fourth day in the second Test in Multan, with Pakistan needing a further 157 with six wickets in hand as they chase 355 for victory against England.
Imam, who usually opens the batting for Pakistan, came in at No 5 after a precautionary hospital visit to check a hamstring injury, and dominated at the crease, building a solid partnership with Saud Shakeel (54no) before his late dismissal thanks to a sharp slip catch by Joe Root off the bowling of Jack Leach (1-88) re-energised England and wrestled back some momentum for the tourists.
James Anderson (1-8), OIlie Robinson (1-14) and Mark Wood (1-35) had earlier reduced Pakistan to 83-3 from 66-0 as the ball began to swing, all three sending the stumps flying with excellent deliveries.
England had resumed on 202-5 before being dismissed for 275, Harry Brook (108) continuing his fine form as he scored the first century of the match in a stand-out batting performance for the visiting side, his brilliant display providing crucial runs as the Test looks set to be decided on day four.
How Pakistan fought back to force gripping finale in Multan
After starting the day on 74, Brook needed just 20 minutes to secure his century with a brilliant shot over mid-wicket, taking just 137 balls to reach the landmark as he continued to combine well with Ben Stokes (41).
A superb innings was brought to an end as he was caught on the boundary off a solid delivery from Zahid Mahmood (3-52), while Stokes was also caught after attempting to ramp up the scoring.
A milestone was awaiting Stokes as a huge six put him equal with head coach Brendon McCullum’s record for the number of sixes in Test cricket (107), but the search for another brought an end to his innings as he was caught in the deep by Mohammed Nawaz.
Ollie Robinson (3) was the next at the crease, but it was a short stay as England’s wickets tumbled, Abrar Ahmed (4-120) claiming his 11th wicket of the Test as he continued to shine on debut.
Mark Wood (6) was next to depart as he was caught at slip by captain Babar Azam, with James Anderson (4) the final wicket to fall, lbw to Mahmood, as England were all out for 275.
Pakistan were dealt a blow with Iman out of the early action due to his hamstring problem, but they managed to produce one of their best sessions of the series so far, going in at lunch 64-0 after a solid opening stand from Mohammad Rizwan and Abdullah Shafique.
England’s only big chance came when Wood looked to have dismissed Rizwan lbw but the batter’s almost-immediate review paid off as DRS showed there was clear contact with the bat.
Soon after lunch, England found their first breakthrough after bringing Anderson into the attack, a perfect delivery angling in and then nipping away to hit Rizwan’s off stump as he departed for 30.
Robinson was the next to pounce as he took the huge wicket of captain Babar (1), after he had faced just 10 balls, pinging the off-stump with an inswinger as Babar shouldered arms, leaving Pakistan 67-2.
Wood was the next to secure a wicket as he smashed the stumps for the third time in the session, jagging a delivery back between Shafique’s (45) bat and pad as the right-hander looked to defend, leaving Pakistan 83-3.
Following that flurry of wickets, Imam and Shakeel stood firm against the spin bowling of Will Jacks, Root and Leach, Jacks missing the biggest chance as he was unable to cling onto the ball as Imam powerfully sent it straight back his way on 19.
Pakistan headed in at tea on 136-3 after a solid second hour and continued their momentum in the final session of the day, Imam taking control to reach the half-century mark from just 80 deliveries, and Shakeel joining him as they brought up the hundred partnership.
With Pakistan firing, a chance came for England as Wood was convinced he had had Imam caught down the leg-side by Ollie Pope, but, with England not opting to use a review, they missed their opportunity of a big wicket as UltraEdge showed the tiniest of contacts with the bat.
After a long and arduous afternoon for England, the key wicket finally came as Imam edged what should have been a drive to Root, who was ready and waiting to grab the catch at slip, the huge celebrations from England indicating just how much they needed that breakthrough.
With the light fading, the umpires called an end to day three with Pakistan on 198-4, setting up an exciting day four in Multan, with the hosts requiring another 157 runs to take the win and level the series.
Can England complete a series victory in Pakistan? Watch day four live on Monday from 4.45am on Sky Sports Cricket and Sky Sports Main Event.