Moeen Ali collapses to the ground after getting hit on the backside of his helmet off a Wahab Riaz bouncer © Getty Images
Moeen Ali collapses to the ground after getting hit on the backside of his helmet off a Wahab Riaz bouncer © Getty Images

Pakistan were staring at a definite victory at the end of Day Four of the third and final Test against England at Sharjah on Wednesday. Shoaib Malik‘s wily spell of bowling had reduced Alastair Cook and co. to 46 for two at the end of the day’s play, needing another 250 runs to level the series with eight wickets in hand — including Ben Stokes, whose injured right shoulder will make it difficult for him to bat on the final day. Cpatain Cook was batting on 17 off 59 balls, with Joe Root (6 off 25 balls) for company at the other end, facing the monumental task of facing the Pakistan spin trio of Malik, Yasir Shah and Zulfiqar Babar on the final day of the series finale. SCORECARD: Pakistan vs England 2015, 3rd Test at Sharjah

England were earlier off to a good start in their second innings, with Moeen Ali hammering Wahab Riaz and Rahat Ali for a couple of boundaries to get the visitors off to a decent start. There was a moment of anxiety for the visitors during this time when Moeen was hit by a vicious bouncer under the back side of his helmet by a Wahab bouncer. Moeen collapsed following the blow, and the situation looked dangerous for a brief bit. He however, was treated by the medical team for a while, and added a protective layer under the back side of the helmet after that, hitting another boundary to make a statement to the bowlers. UPDATES: Pakistan vs England 2015, 3rd Test at Sharjah, Day 4

The problems began after Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq brought in the spinners early in the innings, with Zulfiqar Babar coming in to bowl the fifth over. After struggling to get the runs along, Moeen Ali was finally removed by Shoaib Malik, getting trapped leg-before wicket on the backfoot, for a score of 22 off 43 balls. The dust had barely settled after his dismissal when Malik, who recorded career-best figures of 4 for 33 in the previous innings, struck again.

This time, it was Ian Bell who was on his way back to the pavilion, getting foxed by a delivery that was pitched on middle-stump from around the wicket and stuck to its line, crashing into Bell’s off-stump. England encountered a scary moment or two thereafter, with Pakistan using up both of their reviews in an attempt to get the third wicket along.

The day began with Pakistan resuming from their overnight score of 146 for 3, with the England players walking out to the field wearing black arm-bands in memory of the late Tom Graveney after the England legend passed away late on Tuesday evening. Mohammad Hafeez managed to get his much-anticipated ninth Test hundred shortly after the start of play, and shared a 93-run fifth wicket stand with skipper Misbah-ul-Haq (38) to guide Pakistan to the 250-run mark.

His monumental knock ultimately came to an end when he mishit a Moeen delivery for the second time in the match, this time getting caught by Bell at long-on. The middle-order duo of Asad Shafiq (46) and Sarfraz Ahmed (36) stitched a 55-run seventh-wicket stand as the target was increasingly getting out of reach for England, who do not boast of the best chasing records in the five-day format.

England were earlier bowled out for 306 on Day Three. Comeback man James Taylor, who was playing his first game in over three years, struck a maiden Test fifty to guide his side to the respectable total, with the help of Cook (49), Jonny Bairstow (43), Samit Patel (42) and Bell (40). Yasir took 3 for 99 to complement Malik’s brilliant spell of bowling.

The day ended with Malik announcing his decision to retire from the format at the end of the Test series, stating that intended to make way for youngsters in the Test side, and that he intended to focus completely on the shorter formats.

Brief scores:

Pakistan 234 (Shoaib Malik 38, Younis Khan 31, Misbah-ul-Haq 71, Sarfraz Ahmed 39; James Anderson 4 for 17, Stuart Broad 2 for 13) and 355 (Mohammad Hafeez 151, Azhar Ali 34, Misbah-ul-Haq 38, Asad Shafiq 46, Sarfraz Ahmed 36; Stuart Broad 3 for 44, James Anderson 2 for 52) lead England 306 (Alastair Cook 49, Ian Bell 40, James Taylor 76, Jonny Bairstow 43, Samit Patel 42; Shoaib Malik 4 for 33, Yasir Shah 3 for 99) and 45 for 2 (Moeen Ali 22; Shoaib Malik 2 for 8) by 239 runs.

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(Amit Banerjee, a reporter at CricketCountry, takes keen interest in photography, travelling, technology, automobiles, food and, of course, cricket. He can be followed on Twitter via his handle @akb287)