DateLine: 23rd July 2016
By Andy Jalil at Old Trafford
Pakistan in early collapse facing massive England total
Manchester – England batsmen led by double-centurion Joe Root have put their side in complete control of the second Test with batting of the highest class. Pakistan, facing a daunting total of 589 for eight declared, were 57 for four at close of play on the second day and have a colossal batting task ahead even allowing for the grassless pitch which is heavily in favour of batsmen.
Pakistan began losing wickets after a double bowling change. Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes replaced James Anderson and Stuart Broad and Woakes in his first over had Hafeez playing away from his body to edge a catch to second slip for 18. Woakes was quick to strike again taking a return catch from Azhar Ali for one and Pakistan were 43 for two.
England then struck a bigger blow removing Younis Khan who tried to flick Ben Stokes only to give a leg side catch behind the stumps. Pakistan sent in Rahat Ali, a nightwatchman who did not last long, fending a rising ball from Woakes, he gave a simple catch to short leg and that was 53 for four. Shan Masood remained not out with 30 and Misbah-ul-Haq had just got off the mark.
Resuming on 314 for four, England had Pakistan struggling for a wicket for almost the entire first session with Joe Root and Woakes batting with ease on a pitch which offered little to the five bowlers Pakistan used. It wasn’t until three overs before lunch, which was taken on 427 for five that the first wicket of the day fell, when Woakes departed. By then he, along with Root had added 100 of their 103-run stand off 174 balls.
Having come in as nightwatchman, Woakes gave excellent support to Root who was 141 overnight. He scored steadily against both pace and spin taking his score to 42 with a confident flick of Wahab Riaz and a sweep of Yasir saw him to 48 before reaching his second Test half century smacking a full toss from part time spinner Azhar for a single.
On 58 from 104 balls in two hours at the crease – which included 8 fours and the only six of the innings from an upper cut over the third man boundary – Woakes provided Yasir Shah, the ten-wicket hero of the previous Test, with his first wicket of the innings after he had been hit for 139. The Pakistan leg spinner gratefully accepted the return catch and if the breakthrough brought some relief to Pakistan, it was short lived as Root, who was on 178 at the time and Ben Stokes put on 57 in just over an hour.
Root remained totally unperturbed by the bowling and moved on to 170 sweeping Yasir for four. While playing with confidence he took little chance and became more cautious as he approached a double century. At one stage he faced 61 balls without hitting a four and in fact the last 17 of this runs before reaching 200 had come from singles. He then reached the milestone with a reverse sweep to the third man boundary off Yasir having faced 355balls in a five-and-a-half-hour stay at the crease.
Pakistan could do little to restrict the scoring rate of England as yet another fine stand developed, this time between Root and Bairstow. Misbah-ul-haq, the Pakistan captain rotated his bowlers frequently but it made no impression on either batsmen. Root displayed a full range of strokes and found gaps in the field almost wherever he wanted to score. There were lapses in Pakistan’s ground fielding and chances for catches were wasted.
At tea England were 533 for six with Root on 226 and Bairstow on 32 but the fifth over after the break saw Root’s long innings spanning ten-and-a-quarter hours come to an end when he lofted Wahab for a catch at mid-wicket by Hafeez. He had faced 406 balls and hit 27 fours in putting England in a commanding position. Two overs later England declared with Bairstow having reached his seventh Test half century and then being held at mid-off to give Wahab three wickets for 106 while Yasir conceded 213 runs from 54 overs for one wicket.
England have a good recent record on this ground where they have remained unbeaten in the last fifteen years. Certainly they have done enough already in this Test match to ensure that record will be extended at least by another year.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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