DateLine: 24th July 2016
By Andy Jalil at Old Trafford
England in commanding position in second Test
Manchester – In such wet conditions it is likely that time will prolonged before Pakistan go down in defeat in the second Test sometime on the fourth day. After conceding a massive first innings lead of 391 and with England on 98 for 1 in the second innings at close of play Pakistan are already behind by 489 runs and whatever the final lead will be – with an overnight declaration a possibility – they will need a world record score to win.
The highest total in the fourth innings to win a Test is 418 and the highest Pakistan has made in a chase to win was 382 for three in Sri Lanka a year ago in July 2015. It is primarily the rain that could be of any help to Pakistan in saving the match.
England, to much surprise, decided not to enforce the follow-on and began their second innings ten minutes before tea which was rescheduled because of two stoppages for rain. They were 11 without loss and in overall lead by 402 when a lengthy stoppage followed and after a brief period of play there came another interruption with England having progressed to 56 without loss. With 27 overs lost in the day, play restarted at 6.40pm with playing time extended to 7.30 if required for overs to be completed.
England opening batsmen scored rapidly to put on 68 in under a run-a-minute before Mohammad Amir removed Alex Hales who, on 24, inside edged a ball on the rise, behind the stumps. Alastair Cook was on 42 at the time and when stumps were drawn for the day he had moved on to 49 from 53 balls and Joe Root was 23 from 19 balls in an unbroken stand of 30 from 31 balls.
Earlier, resuming their first innings on a precarious position of 57 for four Pakistan lost their first wicket of the day within five overs when Shan Masood, having added just nine to his overnight score of 30, edged a rising ball from James Anderson to second slip. Pakistan’s hopes of a recovery of some sort lay with Misbah-ul-Haq and Asad Shafiq the last of the specialist batsmen. But they were only able to add 5 runs when Shafiq drove a ball from Stuart Broad, outside off stump and on the up for a catch at points which reduced the tourists to 76 for six.
Pakistan’s next two wickets went after a double bowling change. Sarfraz Ahmed hit a quick-fire 26 from 18 balls with 20 of those runs coming from fours before he went forward to a ball from Ben Stokes which was a little short of length and he got a thick edge to second slip and that was 112 for seven. Seven runs later Root held his fourth catch of the innings when Yasir Shah got a thick edge pushing at Chris Woakes on the stroke of tea.
Pakistan’s ninth wicket partnership between Misbah and Wahab Riaz had the highest stand of the innings with 60 runs from 91 balls. During that stand Misbah reached his 33rd Test half century and was the only batsman to play the England bowling with a semblance of confidence. He was cautious nevertheless with Pakistan having lost wickets cheaply and had only the tail-enders to bat with.
But England eventually claimed his wicket on 179 when he top-edged a sweep at Moeen Ali for Alastair Cook to take the simple catch at short backward square leg. He had been quite at ease facing Moeen earlier playing several sweep shots as well as the reverse sweep but the bearded England off spinner finally had his say.
Wahab went on to add 19 useful runs for the last wicket with Mohammad Amir until his heave at Moeen landed in the hands of Alex Hales just inside the long-on boundary with the Pakistan total on 198. Thirty of Wahab’s 39 runs had come from boundaries which included the only six of the innings. He had faced 61 balls in just under an hour-and-a-half at the crease. It was weak batting by Pakistan throughout their first innings and England bowlers made full use of the cloudy conditions after the first two days of sunshine.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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