Openers give Pakistan solid start after England amass 657

Published December 3, 2022
PAKISTAN opener Imam-ul-Haq plays a shot during the first Test against England at the Pindi Cricket Stadium on Friday.—AFP
PAKISTAN opener Imam-ul-Haq plays a shot during the first Test against England at the Pindi Cricket Stadium on Friday.—AFP

RAWALPINDI: After England had plundered the Pakistan bowlers for 657 runs in their first innings, the hosts too did not relent.

At the close of the second day’s play of the opening Test here at the Pindi Cricket Stadium on Friday, Pakistan openers Imam-ul-Haq and Abdullah Shafique were approaching hundreds on an absolutely placid pitch before bad light stopped play.

It was now the England’s bowlers to toil hard. Led by veteran pacer James Anderson, they too kept pushing for a breakthrough, only to succumb to the unresponsive nature of the surface as Pakistan ended the day at 181-0.

The visitors aren’t hoping for much to change and the match — the first five-day affair between the sides in 17 years — has become a batting contest with more than 800 runs scored across the two days.

“It will but tough to get any wickets but we are definitely going to give it a crack,” England batter Harry Brook said in a press conference after stumps.

All that Brook hoped might help England get an early breakthrough on the third day could be “one [delivery] that stays underground and hit one of them on the boot”.

Nothing of such sorts happened while Imam and Abdullah batted. The duo were around half as quick with their scoring rate as England, who broke numerous records with the bat thanks to the “Bazball” approach — named after their coach Brendon McCullum.

However, a review saved Abdullah after umpire Joel Wilson’s soft signal ruled him out following an appeal by Ollie Pope for caught behind.

Imam, on the other hand, brought up his 1000 runs in Test cricket in his 17th outing, pushing spinner Jack Leach for two.

Abdullah, whose last outing at the venue saw him score a hundred against Australia, reached his fifth half-century after cracking two boundaries before Imam took a single off Joe Root to reach his 50.

Abdullah and Imam will arrive at the crease on the third day with 89 not out and 90 not out against their names.

Earlier, after resuming their innings at 506-4, added 151 runs in 125 minutes, with Brook taking his overnight score of 101 to 153. The right-hander was the fourth centurion for England in the innings after Zak Crawley (122), Ollie Pope (108) and Ben Duckett (107).

The 23-year-old, who smashed six fours in a Saud Shakeel over on Thursday, plundered debutant leg-spinner Zahid Mahmood for 27 runs on Friday, embodying England’s highly entertaining brand of cricket.

Brook departed when he picked out Saud off pacer Naseem Shah ending his 116-ball blitz, which contained five sixes and 19 fours. Naseem also had cleaned up England captain Ben Stokes (41) before claiming all-rounder Liam Livingstone’s wicket.

Zahid got the most wickets for Pakistan, but conceded the most runs too (235), breaking the record for the most by a bowler on Test debut.

Zahid’s best bet for the wicket to come into play was by producing help for spinners on the fourth and fifth day.

“I bowled my heart out,” he said.

Scoreboard

ENGLAND (1st Innings, overnight 506-4):

Z. Crawley b Haris 122

B. Duckett lbw b Zahid 107

O. Pope lbw b Ali 108

J. Root lbw b Zahid 23

H. Brook c Saud b Naseem 153

B. Stokes b Naseem 41

L. Livingstone c Saud b Naseem 9

W. Jacks c Naseem b Ali 30

O. Robinson lbw b Zahid 37

J. Leach not out 6

J. Anderson c Imam b Zahid 6

EXTRAS (B-2, LB-10, NB-2, W-1) 15

TOTAL (all out, 101 overs) 657

FALL OF WICKETS: 1-233 (Duckett), 2-235 (Crawley), 3-286 (Root), 4-462 (Pope), 5-515 (Stokes), 6-539 (Livingstone), 7-576 (Brook), 8-641 (Jacks), 9-649 (Robinson)

BOWLING: Naseem 24-0-140-3, Ali 24-1-124-2 (2nb), Haris 13-1-78-1 (1w), Zahid 33-1-235-4, Salman 5-0-38-0, Saud 2-0-30-0

PAKISTAN (1st Innings):

Abdullah Shafique not out 89

Imam-ul-Haq not out 90

EXTRAS (B-2) 2

TOTAL (for no wicket, 51 overs) 181

BOWLING: Anderson 8-2-16-0, Robinson 5-0-21-0, Leach 19-4-68-0, Jacks 12-2-50-0, Root 4-1-9-0, Stokes 3-0-15-0

Published in Dawn, December 3rd, 2022

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