Manchester: Pakistan started a rather safer innings on the first day of the first test match with England in Manchester. Shan Masood and Babar Azam partnership, the reason for the better score, is still unbeaten with a team score 139-2 when the stumps are off on the first day.
The first day game was shortened due to rain and poor light in Old Trafford, Manchester. Shan Masood and Babar Azam do not seem to be off form due to the lock-down and hectic protocols on grounds of the pandemic. Both of them picked up precisely where they left off the last time they played Test cricket, as Pakistan had the better of a discrete first day back playing.
The Pak innings gave a bad omen to the fans right at the starting at a team score 36 runs, when Abid Ali was clean bowled by Jofra Archer, England pacer. The situation became worse when the one-down Azhar Ali’s leg was strangled in front of the wicket in Chris Woakes’ ball. The fall of 2nd wicket at team score 42.
That was where Shan Masood and Babar Azam started their defence and timed attacks. When the first day ended both are not out with 46 runs and 69 runs respectively to their account, raising the team score to a safer 139-2. Babar Azam, in fact, was in a limited-over game mood as he hit 11 fours to reach 69 with a strike rate of 69.00.
Meanwhile Masood batted calm and serious. He is in a rather good form with two centuries in his two previous test matches. Masood needed some luck, and not just against Anderson, with Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes darting the new ball in the air and off the seam.
He was spared twice by Jos Buttler, England’s wicketkeeper, off the off-spin of Dom Bess. First he edged behind, but Buttler grassed the chance. Later, after a lengthy rain delay, he grew impatient with his half-century in sight. He charged down the wicket, aimed a heave at Bess, and missed – but the ball hit Buttler’s shoulder instead of gloves. It left Masood on 46 not out as bad light curtailed the final session of the day.
This tour has been prefaced with a debate over whether or not it will be the time when Babar vaults into the select group of the world’s leading batsmen.
How it can possibly be thought he is not among them already seems peculiar.
His Test average in the past two years is higher than Virat Kohli, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, or anyone else for that matter.
He has hundreds in four of his past five Tests, and looks well placed for another in this one, too. The 25-year-old right-hander has made 69 not out from 100 balls so far. While the start is promising for Pakistan, they need as much as they can get from their batsmen, given they have a long-looking tail.
They have opted to play two leg-spinners – Yasir Shah and Shadab Khan – together with the brilliant pace triplet of Mohammed Abbas, Naseem Shah and Shaheen Afridi.