Pakistan's victory charge frustrated by Buttler and Bess
Pakistan remain favourites for victory after another largely dominant performance on day three of the first Test against England, who at least avoided an innings defeat thanks to the efforts of Jos Buttler and Dom Bess.
An all-too familiar batting collapse from the hosts saw England slip from 91-2 to 110-6 and staring at the very realistic possibility of defeat within three days at Lord's.
Joe Root's 68 had been the only form of resistance until Buttler (66 not out) – playing a first Test since December 2016 – and debutant Bess (55no) frustrated an otherwise brilliant Pakistan attack.
The duo's unbeaten 125 stand helped England to 235-6 and a lead of 56, but the hosts face a tough task to build a sizeable advantage with only four wickets in hand and two days remaining.
Pakistan's only disappointment will be the fact they failed to build on their excellent afternoon session, with Mohammad Abbas (2-36) taking the big wickets of Alastair Cook (1) and Root, while Mohammad Amir (2-35) and Shadab Khan (2-63) also played their part.
Heart and quality shown by the west country boys @DomBess99 and @josbuttler
Scorecard/Clips: https://t.co/YGMWkAR2Jc#ENGvPAK pic.twitter.com/JddcrizzsK
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) May 26, 2018
Pakistan added just 13 to their overnight total in the morning session, but soon set about England's top order - the sublime Abbas striking Cook's kneepad.
The out-of-form Mark Stoneman (5) trudged back from potentially his last England knock when an ugly 45-ball innings was ended by Shadab, who had the opener pinned on his back foot and took out off stump.
Root went on the counter-attack and, bar a couple of near misses, looked in decent nick en route to a fifty that came with a prod between second slip and gully for four.
The wickets started to tumble again, though. Dawid Malan – who had earlier taken a nasty Hasan Ali bouncer on the helmet – played with patience but made just 12 off 50 before nicking Amir behind.
Jonny Bairstow followed two balls later, Amir's ripper squeezing through bat and pad to smash off stump, and Ben Stokes made just nine before clipping Shadab to midwicket.
Another huge blow was landed when Abbas struck Root on the pads, a consequent review showing the delivery was travelling full throttle into leg stump.
Buttler and Bess' seventh-wicket stand finally brought some joy to a Test filled with woe for England, though.
Pakistan suddenly turned flat after tea, with misfields creeping into their game and Buttler cashed in – bringing up his fifty with a whip off the pads through midwicket.
First-ever Test 50 for @DomBess99
What a fine innings it's been so far from the @SomersetCCC man!#LoveLords#ENGvPAK pic.twitter.com/46MTTEVF88
— Lord's Cricket Ground (@HomeOfCricket) May 26, 2018
Shortly after, Bess celebrated a debut half-century, punching a single to midwicket, as Pakistan were left with just enough to ponder at stumps.