Pakistan v England: Magic from James Anderson, Ollie Robinson and Mark Wood in Multan

Ollie Pope of England congratulates James Anderson of England on the wicket of Mohammad Rizwan of Pakistan during day three of the Second Test Match between Pakistan and England at Multan Cricket Stadium on December 11, 2022 in Multan, Pakistan
Jimmy Anderson produced a beauty to bowl Mohammad Rizwan

England’s seam bowlers took turns to produce magic deliveries on day three of the second Test against Pakistan.

Having set the hosts 355 to win in Multan, England might have been getting a little edgy after failing to make any early inroads with the ball.

However, three stunning dismissals during the afternoon session put Ben Stokes’ side back on track for a series-clinching win.

England lead the three-match series 1-0 after a 74-run win in Rawalpindi.

As has so often been the case over the years, it was Jimmy Anderson who made the initial breakthrough for England.

The 40-year-old was not used before lunch but soon made his mark once he was thrown the ball.

With Pakistan 66-0, Anderson angled the ball in to Mohammad Rizwan on a good length, the right-hander came forward to defend only to see the ball nip away off the seam – perhaps for the first time in the match – and hit the top of off stumpexternal-link.

Anderson has a number of beauties among his now 674 Test wickets but this was among his very best and Rizwan could only stand and look back in bewilderment before dragging himself from the field.

Three overs later, it was Babar Azam’s turn to wear a look of disbelief after losing his off stumpexternal-link.

The ball was just starting to offer a hint of reverse swing but the Pakistan captain was still perfectly happy to leave an Ollie Robinson delivery that pitched a foot wide of off.

Babar, like just about any batter on this surface, did not factor in the ball jagging back so sharply to thud into the timbers. It did, Pakistan were two down and Robinson wheeled away in celebration.

England had to wait just shy of another 10 overs for their third wicket and it came through the express pace of Mark Wood.

Abdullah Shafique was well set on 45 but there was nothing he could do when faced with the combination of speed, reverse swing and seam movement that Wood had to offer.

The ball was already tailing in as Shafique propped himself forward to block but the ball came back further off the seam, snuck through the gate and flattened off stumpexternal-link.

Wood himself may not have seen it clearly after falling as he delivered the ball but it completed a magical triumvirate of wickets for England’s pacers on a pitch that has offered them precious little before or since.

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