Pakistan solid after England’s record total as openers dominate Day 2

RAWALPINDI: Pakistan openers Imam-ul-Haq and Abdullah Shafique raised a solid 181-run partnership as the home side wrestles to take down England’s mammoth 657-run lead in the first innings, here at Pindi Cricket Stadium on Friday. 

Both the opener piled up brilliant fifties and were on the march to their respective centuries as they dominated England bowlers in the second and third sessions of day 2 of the first Test.

Imam completed his 1000 runs in Test cricket when he cut behind the first delivery of the 18th over by Will Jacks for two.

Trailing by 476, Pakistan still have a long way to go in the match and still require 277 runs to avoid the follow-on. Imam and Abdullah will continue with their respective knocks from 90* and 89* when the play resumes the next day.

The flat Rawalpindi surface continued its favours upon batters as England’s bowling attack found no help from the pitch too. Ben Stokes utilised spinners for 35 out of 51 overs in the quest to get some turn of the wicket but to no avail.

Earlier Naseem Shah pulled out a sensational comeback with three early wickets in the morning as England were bundled out after scoring a massive 657 runs – their highest innings total against Pakistan.

England, who earlier made 598/9 in the second innings at Abu Dhabi back in 2015, have bettered their own record against Pakistan in Rawalpindi Test with help of four individual centuries on day one.

The touring side added another 151 runs to the total when they resumed the play on the second day as Harry Brook carried his phenomenal overnight knock and reached 153 off 116 before falling prey to Naseem.

As Naseem took down skipper Ben Stokes, Liam Livingstone and Brook inside the first nine overs on a new day, Will Jacks and Ollie Robinson stitched a valiant 65-run partnership for the eighth wicket and steered England to 641 before debutant Mohammad Ali clawed in with a breakthrough.

Jacks batted at a strike rate over 100, scoring 30 off 29 while Robinson remained the most sluggish in England’s otherwise ferocious batting line as he made 51-ball 37.

Zahid Mehmood, who was the pick of the bowlers for Pakistan with four wickets, produced the most expensive debut bowling performance when he conceded 235 runs from 33 runs. He struck down Robinson before getting rid of tail-ender James Anderson, which finally ended England’s staggering run.

Earlier on the opening day, England wreaked havoc on Pakistan’s bowling attack as they piled up a record 506 runs – the highest by any team on the first day of a Test match – for the loss of just four wickets thanks to the blistering centuries by Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope and Brook.