Shan Masood stood tall with a 3rd consecutive century as Pakistan moved passed 300 on the second afternoon of the first Test against England.
Masood’s last 2 Test innings saw him make tons in Karachi and Rawalpindi, and he followed up with a career-best 156 in the greatly different conditions of Emirates Old Trafford.
The 30-year-old opener was reprieved twice by wicketkeeper Jos Buttler on 45 on the first day and took his opportunity magnificently as he extended his innings to 314 balls in 106 overs at the crease.
The hosts had striven to maneuver their opponents to 187 for 5 at lunch, taking three for 48 in a relentlessly disciplined opening session, only for a 105-run stand between Shan Masood and Shadab Khan to turn the tables back in Pakistan’s favor.
2 wickets in 2 balls from Jofra Archer mitigated some of that progress, but Pakistan will be more than delighted with their efforts so far.
The morning began with a head-to-head between Babar Azam and James Anderson, the former picking up from a fantastic first day and the latter looking to kick up a notch after a modest showing.
It was the Englishman who came out on top, quickly and decisively. After putting Babar on alert with 5 probing deliveries, he drew a loose drive with his 6th, a thick edge held soundly by Joe Root at slip.
At 38, Anderson has little to prove to anybody, but having struggled against Babar on Wednesday, this was a point well made.
With the premier stroke-maker back in the pavilion, Anderson and Stuart Broad set about tightening their grip. Together they hammered out a probing line and length and dialing up the pressure that cost only a single.
The 29th brought deserved reward, Broad dropping just back of a length and getting enough bounce to hit the shoulder of Asad Shafiq’s bat and sail through to Ben Stokes at second slip.
By the time England made their first change of the day, their experienced seamers had sent down 11 overs for 11 runs to grind Pakistan’s progress to a stop.
Archer and Chris Woakes did not allow the pressure to cease. While England reached some form of stalemate with Masood, who ticked along with growing confidence to 77 before lunch, Mohammad Rizwan was outclassed by an away-swinger from Woakes.
The game was at a crossroads as the afternoon started, but 5 overs of spin from Root and Dom Bess allowed Masood and Shadab to ease into their work.
The pair added 27 runs to alleviate much of the pressure that had built before the break and took that approach on when Broad and Anderson shared the fresh Dukes.
The batsmen ran wonderfully, daring England to produce something special in the field and consistently getting away with it. Masood went moved into the 90s by poking Broad to the 3rd man boundary and after that repeated the stroke as he drifted wider.
A nudge for 2 off Anderson saw him to his third consecutive 100 in the 86th over of his occupation, bringing delighted celebrations from the man himself and his massed teammates on the balcony.
With Shadab on the attack, Broad and Anderson were milked for 42 in 8 overs, a stark contrast to their earlier work.
The partnership moved past 3 figures, a potential game-changer, before Shadab (45) hacked wilfully at Bess and skied a top edge to mid-on.
Buttler’s struggles continued when he dropped Yasir Shah on 5, Bess again the victim, but Archer was quick to send him back lbw. Mohammad Abbas prodded the next ball to slip, but the hat-trick chance came and went with a staunch defense from Shaheen Afridi.
After almost 110 overs in the field, and with a more than handy total on the board, England now had to strap in for one of the most exciting attacks in world cricket. Whatever plan was hatched in the safety of the dressing room was scattered to the wind in little more than 20 minutes.
Shaheen needed only 4 deliveries to open his account on English soil, racing through the crease from over the wicket and straightening one to Burns as he looked to work the ball off his pads.
It took DRS to remove the suspicion of an inside edge, and the 20-year-old celebrated his first wicket. The technology came to England’s aid moments, later, Root given out for 0 after being beaten by swing but correctly judging the bounce to be high.
Shaheen was only one part of the equation, though, and Abbas proved simply as deadly. The crafty seamer, recently of Leicestershire, dipped into his bag of tricks and found a seaming delivery that was pinned Sibley in front for 8.
That brought Stokes to the arena, and Abbas conjured something fitting of his remarkable opponent. Batting outside his crease and advancing, Stokes was foxed on the outside edge and paid with his off stump, bowled for a duck, and briefly stunned at his own fate.
Pakistan raised the bars again in reaction, with England in horrible trouble at 12 for 3. Root and Pope shut out the noise to put on 50 together, the younger man doing the majority of the scoring, including one textbook on-drive off teenage quick Naseem Shah.
Yasir started slowly but turned one just enough to snare Root’s outside edge for 14, an ambitious cut safely pouched by Rizwan. Pope was playing a different game to his colleagues, finding 6 boundaries as he settled well to the job, and his side needs plenty more of the same to reclaim their footing.
Check the Day 1 Report here: Pak vs Eng 1st Test Day 1
Watch England vs Pakistan 1st Test Day 2 Highlights 6th August 2020