Everyone who has more than a passing interest in Test cricket would have been looking forward to the three-match series between England and Pakistan for one main reason: to see how Pakistan pacers fare against England’s batsmen in helpful conditions.
Irrespective of where one’s allegiances lie, the sight of Pakistan pacers doing well is one of the most fascinating in Test cricket. Very few teams around the world, over the history of the game, produce as many thrilling moments with the red ball in hand as Pakistan.
And against Ben Stokes, the best England batsman (perhaps the best in the world at the moment), Mohammad Abbas produced a delivery that most pacers would dream of.
With a scrambled seam, Abbas drew Stokes forward and beat his outside edge with a ball that deviated away ever so slightly. In the next instant, the ball had hit the top of offstump and the bails were in the air as Stokes realised he had been completely done in by a superb piece of seam bowling.
And just like that, the leading scorer in Test cricket since the start of 2019 was out for a duck.
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With Stokes’ dismissal, England collapsed to 12/3 in the first Test. Pakistan made 326 all out in their first innings, with opener Shan Masood top-scoring with a Test-best 156.
Then, it took Pakistan just four balls to strike, with Rory Burns lbw for four to towering left-arm paceman Shaheen Afridi on the second day.
England captain Joe Root was still on nought when he was given out leg before to Afridi but a successful review spared the skipper.
Pakistan were soon celebrating again, however, when Mohammad Abbas had Dom Sibley lbw, the batsman wasting a review when clearly out.
But there was no need for the third umpire to get involved when Abbas bowled left-handed batsman Stokes for a seven-ball zero with a superb delivery that clipped the top of off-stump.
That left England 12/3 inside six overs.
The hosts then ended the second day on 92/4 – a deficit of 264 runs – with England captain Joe Root falling for 14. Shaan Masood’s Test-best 156 was the cornerstone of Pakistan’s first-innings 326 all out.
(With AFP inputs)