Combined effort sees Pakistan build lead against England at Lord’s

25 May, 2018 9:34 pm

LONDON – Pakistan continued where they left off on day one, out-playing England in their own backyard to move into a commanding position on the second day at Lord’s.

Having exploited the movement on offer with a controlled bowling display to dismiss the hosts for 184, Pakistan produced a disciplined performance with the bat to move onto 350/8 at close on day two.

It was another impressive day for the tourists, who once again looked solid, motivated and clear in their objectives. Although no batsman kicked on to post a big score, coach Mickey Arthur would have been encouraged to see every one of his batsmen, bar Sarfraz Ahmed, contribute on a day when the Lord’s crowd was largely kept muted.

Azhar Ali (50) and Haris Sohail (39) nullified the much-vaunted opening combination of James Anderson and Stuart Broad, ensuring England made no inroads in the first hour. Asad Shafiq (59) and Babar Azam (68*) picked their shots with care to keep the ball rolling in the middle order. And all-rounders Shadab Khan (52) and Faheem Ashraf (37) took advantage of an error-prone England to score freely and further frustrate their hosts.

There was plenty of endeavour from England’s bowlers, with all four seam bowlers drawing play-and-misses, but with poor fielding and minimal swing captain Joe Root was forced to try different tactics. Mark Wood and pick of the bowlers Ben Stokes (3/73) both tested out the middle of the wicket with some short-pitch bowling, with some success, yet – like for the entirety of this match – England are still chasing the game.

Although Azhar and Haris both benefited from some good fortune in the opening stages, the duo set the tone perfectly for Pakistan, seeing off Anderson and Broad in the process. But after dealing comfortably with a barrage of short bowling, Wood made the breakthrough with the last ball before drinks, finding some movement off the seam to take Haris’s outside edge through to Jonny Bairstow and end a 75-run stand.

Azhar got through a skittish first over against debutant off-spinner Dom Bess to reach a 28th Test fifty from 133 balls, but the right-hander played around a straight one three balls later to be pinned lbw by Anderson, whose switch to the Nursery End paid off immediately.

Shafiq and Babar simply continued where the two dismissed batsmen left off, however, with the former showing his intent with a slog-sweep for six off Bess before lunch, which Pakistan reached on 136/3 off 51 overs.

Shafiq moved to his 20th Test fifty from 81 balls with an upper cut for four off Wood, but fell soon after. He was dropped by Jos Buttler off Stokes’ bowling at gully, but an unperturbed Stokes produced a nasty bouncer the very next ball which the right-hander fended to Dawid Malan at second slip.

Babar cut away Bess for four to reach a sixth Test fifty in 13 matches from 93 balls as Pakistan neared tea in a brilliant position, which was undermined slightly by a rash shot from their captain. Sarfraz fell into England’s trap, top-edging a hook shot off Stokes down to Wood at fine leg.

Babar continued on his merry way, but was denied a chance at a first Test century when he took his eye off a short ball from Stokes and was struck on the wrist. The physio came on with an ice pack, but with the score on 246/5, Babar retired hurt – although he stayed in the dressing room, rather than visiting hospital.

It was then over to Shadab and Faheem, who added a brisk 72 runs in 15.2 overs as England were put to the sword before fighting back with some late wickets.

The youthful pair benefited from some good fortune. Shadab overturned an lbw decision on 15 against Broad, with the replay showing an inside-edge. Faheem then edged Wood between Bairstow and Cook while on 29 and rubbed salt into the wound by smashing the next ball away for four.

Shadab was dropped on 30 in the next over by Cook as the former captain let slip a regulation catch at first slip off Anderson’s bowling. Anderson responded well though, finding Faheem’s inside-edge to bowl the left-hander.

Shadab reached a second Test fifty with a streaky top-edge, but fell straight after, getting glove onto a short ball from the impressive Stokes to give Bairstow a legside catch. Anderson then found some bounce to have Hasan Ali caught by Buttler at gully for a duck, but Mohammad Amir (19 not out) and Mohammad Abbas (0 not out) reached stumps unbeaten.

With the injured Babar perhaps able to come out and bat tomorrow, Pakistan may well extend their 166-run lead.

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