Yasir, history give Pakistan the edge | cricket.com.au

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Yasir, history give Pakistan the edge

England's fourth-innings target already a challenging one as spinner and stats weigh against the hosts

England will need to at least equal their best-ever chase at Lord's if they're to prevail in the first Test against Pakistan.

As the tourists extended their lead on day three at the home of cricket, England coach Trevor Bayliss would doubtless have been anxious with each run that added to an increasingly tricky fourth-innings chase.

Quick Single: Lord's opener hangs in balance

Heading into day four, Pakistan lead by 281 with two wickets in hand, meaning if they fail to add to their current score, England will need 282 to win – the exact total that represents their highest successful run chase at the historic London venue.

That target was achieved against New Zealand in 2004, when an unbeaten 103 from Nasser Hussain anchored a stellar run chase by the English, who reached 282 from 87 overs for the loss of just three wickets.

And while that England team had to negotiate a wily Daniel Vettori, who went wicket-less through 25 overs, they didn't have to contend with a rampant Yasir Shah – the man who looks poised to hold the key to this Test after six first-innings wickets, and will now be working on a pitch that has looked more conducive to variable bounce and greater turn as it wears.

Incredibly, teams have been set 220-plus to win at Lord's on 50 occasions prior to this Test match, with just two emerging victorious.

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In addition to England in 2004, the other successful side was the legendary West Indies outfit of 1984, which chased down its target of 342 for the loss of just one wicket, as Gordon Greenidge hit 214 not out from just 242 balls in one of the greatest performances ever seen at the ground.

At all venues worldwide, England have been set 280-plus to win throughout their 139-year Test history on 151 occasions, winning only eight of those matches.

More encouragingly for the hosts, half of those have come this century: Mark Butcher was the hero of Headingley when they beat the Aussies in 2001 by reaching 315; Andrew Strauss made 106 at Old Trafford when England posted 4-294 to beat the Black Caps in 2008; and NZ were also the victims of huge England chases twice in 2004 – the aforementioned effort of 282 at Lord's in May that year, and 6-284 a month later at Trent Bridge, courtesy of an unbeaten 104 from Graham Thorpe.

"We didn’t bat well in the first innings and we want to put that right," England allrounder Moeen Ali said after stumps.

"It will be tough, they have a very good leg-spinner who will cause us trouble.

Quick Single: Shah on track for world record

"We have been preparing well for him but first innings he got a lot of wickets. We will have to play well to win this series and he will be the biggest threat tomorrow.

"The guys will definitely come out with a plan. We got caught in the crease in the first innings and didn't use our feet. Sometimes when it's not spinning that can happen. The lack of bounce in the pitch did us in the first innings but everyone has scored runs in the past and will have to use that experience."

Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur believes that returning speedster Mohammad Amir will also pose a threat, in addition to Shah.

"(Amir) was nervous in his first spell of the match but his second, third and fourth were very good – he hit his areas more often than not," Arthur said. "Hopefully he can take that into tomorrow.

"We saw a little bit on offer from the pitch, too. There is up and down bounce too, which is great. 

"It's very close, almost too close to call. I think we are in for a cracking day's cricket tomorrow, if we can sneak another 19-20 and get just over 300, it's going to be a very, very good Test match."

Meg Lanning Steve Smith