Against a world class pace attack led by James Anderson and Stuart Broad — who have a tally of 941 wickets between them — Pakistan’s batsmen batted initially with patience, then authority and finally with aggression to end the day at 350-8 in reply to England’s paltry looking 184 all out.
While Pakistan did most of the things correctly, nothing went right for the hosts. It seemded England players were playing in Pakistan’s kits as they dropped four catches (three today) and one chance went abegging.
Haris Sohail was dropped by Ben Stokes on 16 yesterday. Jos Butler dropped Asad Shafiq on 59. Alastair Cook was culpable of letting off Babar Azam on ten, Faheem Ashraf on 29 and had a chance went abegging off Shadab Khan for 30.
Off the dropped catches only Asad’s catch didn’t cost England much as he was dismissed very next ball, trying to fend a rising delivery from Stokes. His 59 had six boundaries and is his 20th Test half century. Earlier in the day Azhar Ali also notched his 28th half century to give Pakistan some hope of overhauling England’s total.
Azhar’s 50 had six boundaries, as many hit by Asad and the two seniors almost fulfilled the espectations. Azhar had a solid 75-run stand with Haris Sohail who scored 39 while Asad and Babar Azam had a 84-run stand that further consolidated Pakistan’s position. Babar also batted with guts as he was on a mission to prove that with his talent he can come good in red ball cricket. His attractive knock of 68 (ten fours) was cut short after he was hit on the wrsit by a sharp Stokes’s delivery which did not rise as expected by the batsman.
It’s nice to see Babar defying the critics and fulfilling the confidence reposed in him by the team management. As Mohammad Amir (19) and Mohammad Abbas (nought) survived last few overs it paved way for the injured babar to return on Saturday and add a few more rune.
Stokes (3-73) and Anderson (3-82) were the main wicket takers for England in anotherwise big toil for the bowlers.
But it was the two youngsters Shadab Khan (52 ) and Faheem Ashraf (37) who batted with a resolve of increasing the lead, almost matching their 117-run stand that helped Pakistan get a first innings lead against Ireland at Dublin earlier this month.
England bowlers looked confused as when they tried to pitch the ball up they were drived or the balls were left alone and when they pitched short they didn’t seem to getting wickets.
On day three Pakistan will look to further consolidate their position and put further pressure on England as signs are quite similar to the 2016 Lord’s victory.