April 22, 2021

England in trouble after top-order collapse

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England are in big trouble in the first #raisethebat Test against Pakistan after slipping to 92-4 in their first innings following another Jekyll and Hyde performance in the field on day two at Emirates Old Trafford.

Scorecard | As it happened

Rory Burns (4) fell fourth ball to Shaheen Afridi (1-12), while Ben Stokes – one of Mohammad Abbas’ two victims (2-24) – was bowled for a duck by an absolute beauty that angled in and nipped away to knock back the left-hander’s off stump.

Legspinner Yasir Shah (1-36) was wayward early on – conceding 20 in his first three overs – but added the all-important wicket of England captain Joe Root (14), caught behind, after he had put on fifty for the fourth wicket with Ollie Pope (46no).

Earlier, Shan Masood batted beautifully for 156 as Pakistan posted 326 all out in their first innings, the first opener since Saeed Anwar in 1996 to score a century for the tourists in England.

England had started the morning superbly, making up for an erratic display with the ball on day one by taking three wickets for the cost of just 48 runs in the opening session.

Babar Azam (69) was dismissed by James Anderson (1-63) in the first over of the day, without adding to his overnight score and, though Masood moved past fifty, England were back in the game as Pakistan – boasting a long tail – stuttered their way to 187-5 at lunch.

But, as on day one, England were sloppy after the break, though on this occasion the drop off came less from the bowlers, with errors instead creeping in in the field.

Masood led the charge, racing through the gears to bring up a richly-deserved fourth Test ton, and he and Shadab Khan (45) were relentless in their quick running between the wickets in a century stand for the sixth wicket.

England were slow to react as Pakistan reaped 125 runs in 31 overs, while Root’s decision to bowl himself and Dom Bess to start the afternoon session, given the brilliance of the seam bowlers earlier, was also a strange one.

Bess (1-74) ultimately got the breakthrough, but only after being later introduced once the second new ball failed to have the desired impact; Jofra Archer (3-59), meanwhile, took two wickets in two balls after being confusingly held back till the 24th over after lunch and 19th with the new nut.

There was to be no hat-trick for Archer, and it was instead Stuart Broad (3-54) who wrapped up the innings with the wickets of Masood and Naseem Shah after tea.

Pakistan’s 326 had hardly batted England out of the game, but any hopes of the hosts building a first-innings lead were all but extinguished as they slipped to 12-3 in the face of a devastating new-ball burst from the visitors.

As for England’s duo of Broad and Anderson, as off colour as they were on Thursday afternoon, they were exceptional to start the second morning; Anderson struck with his sixth ball, setting Babar up with length deliveries before suckering him into a fuller, drive ball, nicked to slip.

Broad thought he had Masood lbw in the next over with one of his potent, wobble-seam deliveries from round the wicket but, on review, there was the suggestion of a faint inside edge onto pad.

Six-straight maiden overs, and eight from the first 11 of the day, kept the pressure on and Asad Shafiq (7) succumbed, edging Broad to second slip, while Mohammad Rizwan – given out lbw for a duck, but overturned on DRS thanks to another faint edge – was fortunate not to be quickly joining him back in the pavilion.

Rizwan eventually fell for nine, feathering an edge behind off Chris Woakes (2-43) to complete England’s fine morning’s work.

But after lunch, the hosts somewhat gifted Pakistan their 200 as 27 easy runs were scored in five overs of spin leading up to the second new ball and then, when taken, a more settled Masood and Shadab continued to add quick runs.

Overthrows bought up the pair’s fifty partnership as England became increasingly ragged in the field, while Masood went through to his hundred soon after – just the fifth scored by an overseas opener in England in last five years, and first since India’s KL Rahul at The Oval in 2018.

Shadab finally perished for 45, unable to resist the urge to attack the offspinner Bess and skying one down Root’s throat at long-on, but the England errors continued, with Jos Buttler – guilty of dropping Masood, and missing a stumping, on day one – putting down Yasir and fluffing a possible run-out chance of Shaheen with an errant throw to the non-striker’s end.

Thankfully, it wasn’t to prove costly on this occasion, as Yasir was trapped lbw for five and Shaheen left stranded on nine after Archer and Broad combined to end the innings – either side of some lusty blows from Masood off Bess that helped bring up the Pakistan 300 and his 150.

Pakistan then eagerly took to their task with the ball, Shaheen trapping Burns lbw – given out on review – and very nearly adding Root for a duck in his second over, this time given out on field and overturned on DRS.

Pakistan didn’t have to wait much longer for a second strike – Dom Sibley (8) lbw – nor a third, as Abbas struck in back-to-back overs, with his wicket ball of Stokes to live long in the memory.

Pope came to the crease and was at his brilliant, busy best, leading the recovery with Root, who can normally score quickly himself but who found the going much tougher on this occasion before perishing for a 58-ball 14 when trying to cut Yasir off the back foot.

Pope found another willing partner in Buttler (15no), though, to see England safely to stumps without further loss.

Watch day three of the first Test between England and Pakistan, live on Sky Sports Cricket from 10.30am on Friday.