DateLine: 14th July 2016
By Andy Jalil at Lord's
Misbah leads the way for Pakistan
A magnificent tenth Test century by the captain Misbah-ul-Haq, coming at a time when Pakistan most needed a recovery from the depth of 77 for three, enabled the tourists to end the first day’s play in considerable strength on 282 for six. Along with Asad Shafiq, who with a determined 73 gave his captain excellent support, Misbah put on 148 for the fourth wicket, dominating the second and third sessions of play on a fine batting wicket to remain unbeaten on 110 in just under four defiant hours.
Pakistan embarked on their first Test series in England in six years on the ground which had seen one of the biggest controversies in cricket history. The leading figure in that infamous Test, Mohammed Aamer, returned to Test cricket for the first time after his five-year ban but did not feature in the day’s play as Pakistan decided to bat first and at the time of this report going to press, at tea, they had reached 158 for 4 with Misbah, 48 not out from 88 balls and Asad Shafiq on 12, fighting hard to bring about a recovery.
Since their last series in this country, Pakistan have played England in two series, both in the UAE, now regarded as their home venue – with security being an issue in Pakistan – which saw them victorious on both occasions. They inflicted a 3-0 nil whitewash in 2012 and a two nil win last year. But it is two decades since their last win at Lord’s, a situation that they will, no doubt, be wanting to put right. On the other hand, it’s a good omen for England to be batting first as they have been unbeaten on this ground for the last 13 years when they have had the first use of the pitch.
England first struck on the total of 38 with the bowling change when Chris Woakes, with the first ball of his second over, delivered an out-swinger to which Shan Masood, on 7, got an edge for a catch behind as he attempted a push. Two balls after the 50 of the innings came up, Woakes struck again having Mohammad Hafeez held by the wicketkeeper, who did well to run to mid-wicket to take the catch from a mistimed skied shot. Hafeez had 40, from 59 balls, in the total of 51 for two and Woakes had claimed two for 5 in a fine 16-ball spell.
The second over into the second session brought the debutant Jake Ball his maiden Test wicket with Azhar Ali trapped lbw for 7. It was a yorker on the leg stump which Azhar tried to play to leg and fell over as he lost his balance. The review he asked for was unsuccessful. It was then left for the two of most experienced batsman in the side, Younis Khan in his 105th Test and the captain Misbah playing his 62nd, to attempt a recovery.
Both batsmen battled hard, watchful yet quick to pick up runs when the ball as there to be hit. They scored at a similar pace and both were on 32 after bringing up the 50 of the stand in 81 balls. But England got the breakthrough on the total of 134 with a bowling change as Stuart Broad came on for his third spell of the day and with his fifth ball he dismissed Younis for 33, in a little over two hours. Younis had played an uppish clip shot to be held by Moeen Ali at mid-wicket.
The fourth wicket stand was worth 57, from 97 balls, and it was a blow from which Pakistan would do well to recover, much would depend on Misbah and the lower middle order. Misbah took his score to 47 cutting Steve Finn for his eighth boundary, behind point. It was a short ball well outside off stump and Misbah was quick to pounce on it. His 33rd Test half century followed from 81 balls and as his innings progressed he displayed a range of beautiful strokes taking four fours in one over from off-spinner Moeen Ali which took him into the nineties.
Shafiq was finally dismissed in Woakes’ second over with the second new ball when he decided late not to play at an out swinger and in withdrawing his bat the ball went off the bottom edge for a catch behind. With the last ball of the day, Woakes had the nightwatchman Rahat Ali play-on without scoring, to finish with fine figures of four for 45, taking the last two without conceding a run in eleven balls.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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