SOUTHAMPTON, England (Reuters) - Zak Crawley enhanced his burgeoning reputation with a near faultless first test century to lead England to a commanding 332 for four at the close of play on the opening day of the third and final test against Pakistan at the Rose Bowl on Friday.
Crawley, 22, had only scored three first class hundreds prior to the test, but was in imperious form as he ended the day on a career-best 171 not out.
He put on an unbeaten 205 for the fifth wicket with Jos Buttler (87 not out) to get England out of some early trouble.
The pair came together with the home side teetering on 127 for four, but provided a classy counter-punch with some aggressive batting in blustery conditions that made it a hard slog for Pakistan’s seam attack.
Crawley made his test debut against New Zealand in December and having scored three half-centuries in 11 previous innings, including 53 in the previous test against Pakistan, he finally entered the three-figure club.
After losing the toss and being asked to bowl, Pakistan had early success when struggling England opener Rory Burns (6) was caught at third slip by Shan Masood off the bowling of seamer Shaheen Afridi.
Dom Sibley (22) was trapped leg before wicket by wily leg-spinner Yasir Shah (2-107), who also accounted for Ollie Pope (3) with a quicker delivery that pinned the middle-order batsman on the back foot and clattered into his stumps.
Joe Root (29) looked well set before he received a superb delivery from 17-year-old seamer Naseem Shah that caught his outside edge as it jagged away and provided a catch for wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan.
Pakistan need to win the test to level the series after England claimed the first match in Manchester by three wickets, and the rain-hit second fixture ended in a draw.
(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Christian Radnedge, Mark Potter and Pritha Sarkar)
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