Pakistan’s openers provided a confident start after England was bowled out for an aggressive 657 on Friday on the second day of its record-setting first test in Pakistan in 17 years.
Imam-ul-Haq was not out on 90 and Abdullah Shafique was unbeaten on 89 as they played out over two sessions and guided the home team to 181-0 before bad light closed out play with 17 overs still remaining in the day. Pakistan still trails England by 476 runs on a grass-less wicket and needs a further 277 runs to avoid the follow-on, with the wicket still unresponsive to either pace or spin.
“It’s a pretty nice wicket to bat on as you can probably tell by our score,” said Harry Brook, one of the four England century-makers.
“It’s going to be tough to get 20 wickets but we’re definitely going to give it a crack. When we were batting it (the wicket) had started getting a bit low.” Imam has already faced 148 balls and hit 13 fours and a six while Shafique hit 10 boundaries and two sixes in his 158-ball innings.
Neither batter matched the belligerent batting of England at the Pindi Cricket Stadium as they scored at an average of 3.5 an over in comparison to the visitors’ scoring rate of 6.5. Shafique survived two close chances in the last session when Ollie Pope couldn’t grab a low legside catch off veteran James Anderson and Ben Duckett dropped a reflex catch close to the wicket.
Pope had to don the gloves behind the wicket after regular wicketkeeper Ben Foakes didn’t recover from a viral infection on the eve of the test match. Imam should have been dismissed very early into the second session but Pope fumbled a faint edge in left-arm spinner Jack Leach’s first over.
On an unresponsive wicket for the bowlers, England persisted with spinners most of the time but the experienced Anderson couldn’t extract any movement with either new and old ball. Left-arm spinner Leach and off-spinner Will Jacks bowled 31 overs in between them but England couldn’t get the breakthough.
After amassing a world record 506-4 in 75 overs on the opening day when four of the five top-order England batters scored centuries, England added 151 runs at the same electrifying pace to rack up its highest total in a test innings against Pakistan. England’s previous best effort against Pakistan came at Manchester in 2016 when it scored 589-8.
Zahid Mahmood recorded the most expensive figures in a debut test innings when he finished with 4-235 as England batters swept and reverse swept the leg-spinner with ease on a placid wicket.
“No doubt they played very well,” conceded Mahmood, who was preferred over another talented legspinner Abrar Ahmed in the playing XI. “I bowled my heart out and expect that this pitch would take spin on day four and five.” Sri Lankan offspinner Suraj Randiv held the previous record when he ended up with 2-222 against India at Colombo in 2010.
To compound Pakistan bowling problems, fast bowler Haris Rauf (1-78) couldn’t take the field on Day 2 after feeling discomfort in his right quad. Rauf, playing his debut test in his hometown, rolled over the ball during fielding on the first day and his injury was being monitored by the team medical staff.
England resumed the second day with the same aggressive approach that saw Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope and Brook all smashing centuries on the first day. Captain Ben Stokes, resuming on 34, lofted Naseem Shah (3-140) over his head for a straight six off the first ball he faced before he was clean-bowled by the fast bowler off a slower delivery in the same over after scoring 41 off 18 balls.
Brook, resuming on 101, didn’t give the Pakistan bowlers any respite with his superb stroke play as he smashed Mahmood for 27 runs in an over that included a reverse swept six. Brook finally holed out at deep square leg for 153 off 116 balls which featured 19 fours and five sixes.