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THOSE who fear Test cricket’s future and harp on about how popular the shorter version of the game has become with the introduction of T20 should only have to show up when a Lord’s Test is on. And this one with Pakistan — the ever popular visitor to England — is not any different.

A packed house on all three days in which cricket has been of the highest class barring England’s first-innings decimation has come out to be a huge publicity for the condemned game for its lack of attendance in countries other than England.

Let me tell you that Test cricket like in England could have as much appeal in its nature if only the others are able to manage the game with as much efficacy as done by England authorities whose management at all levels of the game is second to none.

Facilities for the crowd, the players and fields have all been professionally managed.

And that is where most of the Asian countries lack, the reason why people keep away from the game. Security is another factor like we have at the moment in our own country ever since that horrific armed attack on the visiting Sri Lankan cricketers in 2009.

The ghost of which still haunts the country and its cricket board.

But having mentioned that I would take my hats off for the way the PCB and our national team have been managing to emerge out of this crisis to to continue producing cricketers of superb ability which of course is on show here on this tour.

And after a hard-earned victory against Ireland in their backyard, Pakistan are now well poisedto dent England’s pride too.

And it all showed up yesterday as England trailing by 179 runs on the first innings stepped in for their second knock to experience the similar pressure of the first innings as Pakistan seamers went all out to expose the home team’s fragile-looking batting to a perilous position.

What gives me greatest pleasure is watching how consistently Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Abbas, Hasan Ali and company have managed to make England struggle for the second time in this match.

The crowd at Lord’s is incomparable, in appreciation and in acknowledging the finer points of the game they have no peers. And the discipline that they show in their applause and in understanding of the game makes a match even worth watching.

On the third morning, they warmly applauded when pace bowling legend Waqar Younis was given the honour to ring the Lord’s Bell at the start of play and continued to enjoy and appreciate the way Pakistan bowled with aggression to squeeze England. At the time of writing this piece, the game was in the grips of Sarfraz Ahmed’s men as tea was taken. A win looked imminent which no doubt would give Pakistan the flip they need to walk tall holding their heads high to make this short tour memorable.

Published in Dawn, May 27th, 2018