England v Pakistan: Tourists lead by 166 runs in first Test at Lord's
|First Test, Lord’s (day two)|
|England 184: Cook 70, Abbas 4-23, Hasan 4-51|
|Pakistan 350-8: Babar 68 retired hurt, Shafiq 59, Shadab 52, Azhar 50|
|Pakistan lead by 166 runs|
Pakistan patiently took a firm grip on the first Test against England on the second day at Lord’s.
Babar Azam, Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq and Shadab Khan made half-centuries to help the tourists to 350-8, a lead of 166.
They gave England, who were bowled out for 184 on day one, a lesson in the discipline, diligence and control required to make runs in Test cricket.
In improved batting conditions, England’s bowling was adequate but lacking the penetration demonstrated by Pakistan on Thursday, perhaps leaving captain Joe Root rueing his decision to bat first.
The home side also did not help themselves by dropping three catches and missing another, to go with a Ben Stokes drop from the first evening.
Stokes at least brought much-needed venom to the home attack, taking three wickets and forcing Babar to retire hurt on 68 with what proved to be a broken wrist.
It may be that Pakistan already have a match-winning lead, while England’s hopes rest on a rapid conclusion of the innings followed by a vastly improved display with the bat.
In truth, though, they need to pull off a remarkable fightback to avoid an eighth consecutive Test without a win.
Pakistan teach England a lesson
If England’s 13-match winless streak away from home can partly be put down to not having the tools for unfamiliar conditions, being so outplayed for two days at Lord’s by Pakistan is a huge concern.
Collectively, Pakistan have had greater preparation for this match and it has shone through with bat, ball and in the field.
England may point to Pakistan having more favourable conditions in which to bowl – that was England’s choice, though – but the home side have no excuse for the way they have been outfought with the bat.
Bar visiting captain Sarfraz Ahmed, who threw his wicket away with a hook at Stokes, Pakistan have shown the concentration and control that was beyond England, leaving with good judgement, defending solidly and scoring when given the opportunity.
Whereas Pakistan held all chances presented to them on day one, England’s catching was woeful.
Jos Buttler’s acrobatic dive to try to grab Shafiq off Stokes can be excused – Shafiq was dismissed next ball – but Alastair Cook had an awful day at first slip.
He missed Babar, on only 10, low to his right, watched an edge off Faheem Ashraf fly between himself and wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow and, in the next over, missed a straightforward chance from Shadab off James Anderson.
Disciplined Pakistan slowly seize control
With Pakistan resuming on 50-1, 134 behind on a grey morning, England will have had hope of taking the early wickets that would have dragged them back into the contest.
However, they were blunted by a touring batting line-up that practised the virtues of orthodox Test batting.
Azhar played handsomely through the off side for his 50, sharing 75 for the second wicket with the watchful Haris Sohail.
Shafiq, who made 59, was compact bar some fortune off the edge and the occasional swipe at debutant off-spinner Dom Bess, who was slogged over cow corner for six.
Babar has excelled in limited-overs cricket and grew from a nervous beginning into playing attractive drives. It was a surprise when he ducked into a Stokes bouncer and had to leave the field.
Still the resistance came. Shadab was another who favoured the off side, reaching 52 before becoming one more victim to the Stokes short ball.
England probe without patience
If England’s batsmen suffered from a lack of patience on day one, perhaps the same can be said for the bowlers on Friday.
Although it is legitimate for an attack and the captain to explore all options, rarely was a plan given time to breathe.
Mark Wood was asked to send down a barrage of bouncers inside the first 50 minutes of the day, accompanied by the unusual sight of Root fielding at short leg.
England did not bowl badly in conditions less helpful than the first day; the bat was beaten with regularity.
However, it was left to Stokes to provide the majority of the potency, the all-rounder accounting for Shafiq, Sarfraz and Shadab with short balls as well as striking an incapacitating blow to Babar’s left wrist.
Like England’s catching, Anderson improved late in the day to bowl Faheem and have Hasan Ali held at gully.
It may, though, have already been too late.
‘England well and truly outplayed’ – what they said
Former England spinner Phil Tufnell on BBC Test Match Special: “England have been well and truly outplayed again.
“It shows through the fielding. Pakistan clung on to everything and it makes you seem together as a side. They have done the basics better than England.
“A lead of 166 on a pitch that is only going to get worse… England have got to somehow go out and get 400. There might be a chat or two behind a closed door in the dressing room this evening.”
Former England captain Michael Vaughan: “I don’t think England can save this – unless there’s rain. The maturity and discipline this inexperienced Pakistan side have shown has been tremendous.”
BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew: “England are going to have to play so much better than they have batted in a long time if they are to save this game.”
England bowler Mark Wood: “On the last day, if the pitch is dry, hopefully reverse and spin comes into it and if we can get a bit of a lead, we can put pressure on.
“We’ve got plenty of fight in the dressing room and plenty of experience – it’s going to be a big effort, though.
Pakistan batsman Azhar Ali: “The conditions weren’t that easy for batting but the way the batsmen fought in the middle against a good English bowling attack was very exceptional we are all very happy with the position, but we have to keep playing good cricket.
“Test cricket is always very tough and there is still a long way to go.”