Pakistan build big lead as England struggle in the field
England are in danger of a sixth defeat in their last eight Tests
England paid a heavy price for their own faulty batting as Pakistan demonstrated how it should be done on day two of the first NatWest Test at Lord’s.
Babar Azam top-scored with 68 before having to retire hurt, and the tourists duly put themselves in a position surely beyond even their own best hopes when Joe Root had chosen to bat first on Thursday morning.
After Asad Shafiq, Azhar Ali and Shadab Khan also reached 50, Pakistan closed 166 in front on 350 for eight and apparently on course to inflict England’s sixth defeat in their last eight Tests.
Root’s men bowled acceptably – Ben Stokes (three for 73) the pick and James Anderson (three for 82) worthy of mention for an impressive spell from the Nursery End in the early afternoon – but after batting so poorly, England fielded no better.
It was a sedate process, but one-way traffic nonetheless, as Pakistan lost four wickets for the addition of 177 runs in the first two sessions.
Heavy cloud cover, as on the first morning, offered the prospect of helpful bowling conditions.
Anderson and Stuart Broad did not waste them, but made no headway either against Haris Sohail and Azhar.
The second-wicket pair had taken their stand to 75 when Mark Wood, bowling mostly short to a packed leg-side field, struck with one pitched slightly further up and good enough to take Sohail’s edge.
After then completing his hard-working half-century from 133 balls, Azhar got no further.
The returning Anderson had him lbw pushing forward and was then unfortunate not to add to his tally.
Babar escaped a half-chance low to Alastair Cook’s right at slip on 10, and then Shafiq (59) edged high and wide of the cordon for four.
He passed his half-century with a deliberate upper-cut over the slips off Wood for his sixth four to add to a slog-swept six off debutant Dom Bess.
Stokes ended the fourth-wicket partnership on 84 as he shifted Shafiq with a brute of a short ball, fenced to slip, the next delivery after the same batsman had survived a tough diving chance to Jos Buttler at gully.
Sarfraz Ahmed’s departure to the last ball before tea was an infuriating moment for the tourists.
The captain took on the hook – despite England’s leg-side catchers and the imminence of the second new ball – skying one fine to Wood off Stokes for an all-Durham dismissal.
Stokes was emerging as England’s most dangerous bowler and after being handed the second new ball, he hit Babar on the left wrist with a nasty short one.
After lengthy treatment, Pakistan’s mainstay retired hurt, but youngsters Shadab (52) and Faheem Ashraf eased the tourists into a three-figure lead.
They batted with increasing confidence to add to England’s woes, which were encapsulated in one brief but miserable passage of play for the hosts.
Cook and Jonny Bairstow waved through an Ashraf edge off Wood which flew at catchable height between them, and the left-hander clubbed a pull for another boundary next ball.
Then at the other end, England’s frazzled state extended to a regulation drop by Cook off Anderson at slip to reprieve Shadab on 30.
Anderson had Ashraf edging on to his stumps in his next over, the first of his two late wickets, and Stokes bounced out Shadab just after his half-century.
But it all had the worrying appearance of too little much too late for England.