At times passion and talent overcome experience and that’s what happened at Lord’s on Thursday when Pakistan’s talented and vibrant bunch of youngsters got the much experienced England batting bundled out for 184 to make it their day at Lord’s.
At the close Pakistan had overcome the early loss of Imam-ul-Haq for four by reaching 50-1 with Azhar Ali on 18 and Haris Sohail on 21, trailing by 134 runs.
On a pitch having tinge of grass but otherwise looking dry Joe Root’s bold decision to bat first backfired on England but it was a combination of good bowling and accurate decisions by Sarfraz Ahmed — only third outing as Test captain — in rotating his bowlers that led to England’s downfall.
Mohammad Abbas (4-23), Hasan Ali (4-51), Mohammad Amir (1-41) and Faheem Ashraf (1-28 ) ran through an experienced — recently bowled out for 58 in New Zealand — England batting. Only Alsitair Cook with a smart 148-ball 76 with 14 boundaries looked assured. Even Jonny Bairstow (38) — who put the highest partnership of the innings of 57 for the fourth wicket — and Ben Stokes with 38 did look shaky throughout their knocks.
Traditionally, teams winning the toss bat first at Lord’s but the first pitch of international season did have something for the bowlers and Pakistan’s quartet of pace attack made the best use of it, pitching the ball up and got rewards. Mohammad Abbas provided the breakthrough with a late swing to get a tentative Mark Stoneman bowled for four. Joe Root, promoted to three for the season, survived a run out but did not last long, playing a rash shot off a wide delivery nd was caught beghind for four.
Cook, who had a lean Ashes apart from a double hundred at Melbourne, was hell bent on making his record 153rd consecutive Test — equalling Australian doyen Alan Border’s record of most consecutive Tests — with his sublime batting. It needed a superb delivery from Mohammad Amir to dislodge him. Amir made one delivery to cut in and beat the defensive push to dislodge the off-stump. Cook had held the innings in the first two sessions.
England went to tea at 165-5 but hell broke loose after the interval as Pakistan captured five wickets for 16 runs in the space of 27 balls, with three going to Abbas.
From his first wicket to the fourth he was simply superb, accurate and incisive. He caught Stokes infront of the wicket and got his wicket on a review, had debutant Dominic Bess for five and then had Stuart Broad plumb infront for nought.
Hasan, wisely preferred over a slow and monotonous Rahat Ali after the former got clearance on his fitness, was lucky to get Root but bowled a sharp in cutter to send Dawid Malan for six and then after tea dismissed Jos Butler and Mark Wood.
So day one belonged to Pakistan. Their bowlers passed the initial test and now its up to the batting to meet the challenge of James Anderson, Broad and Wood. And if Pakistan take a lead of say 100-120 then England will need a serious effort to save this Test.