Long road for England
Ali's painstaking century allows Pakistan to set target of 324
Last Updated: 05/02/12 3:22pm
England reached 36-0 in pursuit of a victory target of 324 after Azhar Ali's century kept them in the field for most of day three of the final Test against Pakistan.
Ali turned his ovenight 75 into a career-best 157 before Pakistan were eventually all out for 365 in their second innings in the evening session.
England spinners Monty Panesar (5-124 ) and Graeme Swann (3-101) stuck to their task and shared eight wickets.
Andrew Strauss (19no) and Alastair Cook (15no) survived for 20 overs through to stumps, in the process compiling England's highest opening stand of the series, as the tourists seek to avoid a series whitewash.
The last and only other time England have made so many to win a Test was against Australia in Melbourne in 1929.
Azhar's 442-ball vigil was a triumph of unstinting concentration, shot selection and restraint, taking in a stand of 216 with Younus Khan (127), and containing just 10 fours and one six.
Pakistan's last seven wickets fell for only 34 runs in 21 overs, to give world number ones England a glimmer of hope that their batsmen might yet redeem themselves on this hugely disappointing tour to date. To that end, they might do worse than take their cue from Azhar.
He was in absolutely no hurry on the way to his second Test hundred and beyond, having previously reached exactly three figures on this same ground against Sri Lanka last year.
He eventually reached the milestone from the 319th ball he faced, with one of the most memorable shots of his long innings - a cut off Panesar for his fifth four.
Azhar might have gone before his third-wicket partner Younus, for 84, but survived when Swann was just unable to hang on to a tough chance at second slip, very low to his left off the bowling of James Anderson.
Instead England's only breakthrough in the morning came when Stuart Broad had Younus lbw on the front foot - DRS indicated the ball would have clipped the very top of middle-stump - after a five-hour stay which had helped to shut England out for 82 overs.
Younus was replaced by captain Misbah-ul-Haq, another batsman content to make the most of the ample time available in this well-progressed match.
He and Azhar duly added another 87, until Misbah fell lbw pushing forward to Panesar in late afternoon to kickstart the rush of wickets.
There was no DRS left for Asad Shafiq, sweeping at Panesar to become the 40th lbw victim of this head-scratching series, and Adnan Akmal was soon bowled for a duck by one that turned to beat his defence and hit off-stump.
Swann then scored his first successes, after 32 overs in vain. Abdur Rehman and Saeed Ajmal were both caught at slip shortly before tea - and then Azhar fell bat-pad to the off-spinner, and Panesar completed the innings with yet another lbw to account for Umar Gul.
Strauss and Cook each had a scrape but remained unbeaten at the close to at least give England a platform to start their mission improbable.
Cook was dropped by Taufeeq Umar off Gul at third slip on four and Strauss rightly given not out on 14 - even after DRS - when he got his pad outside the line on impact against Mohammad Hafeez's off-spin.