England hit Pakistan for 180 before lunch to set new first-session runs record in Rawalpindi… but debutant leg-spinner Abrar Ahmed takes five wickets to keep the hosts in the game
- England reached 180 for five before lunch in their second Test against Pakistan
- That impressive return surpasses the previous record of 174 set out in Rawalpindi
- But spinner Abrar Ahmed, making his debut for Pakistan, also took five wickets
England’s batsmen rattled along once more on the first morning of the second Test against Pakistan in Multan – but kept tripping up against the bag of tricks of debutant leg-spinner Abrar Ahmed.
By lunch, they had reached 180 for five from 33 overs after Ben Stokes won another important toss. They have never scored more heavily in the first session of a Test, beating the record of 174 set at Rawalpindi – though Friday prayers meant the session was half an hour longer here.
There were rapid half-centuries for Ben Duckett and Ollie Pope – and five wickets for Abrar, including Zak Crawley with his fifth ball as a Test cricketer. He can’t get all 10 on debut, can he?
Abrar Ahmed took five wickets in the first session of Pakistan’s second Test with England
It was never dull, and there were reviews galore as England swept and reverse-swept repeatedly on a pitch offering far more turn than the tarmac of Rawalpindi.
But the upshot was a first-day score that might usually be expected at tea. Chasing many on this surface will not be easy, so England may be quietly grateful they already have some runs on the board.
After fears that smog might delay the start proved unfounded, England made another brisk start against a Pakistan side showing three changes from the team that lost the first Test.
Out went the injured fast-bowling duo of Haris Rauf and Naseem Shah, as well as veteran No 3 Azhar Ali, who was fit, despite injuring a finger in Rawalpindi.
Joe Root was one of the men dismissed by Pakistan’s debutant leg-spinner in Rawalpindi
But England still smashed 180 from 33 overs to set a new runs record in the first session
In came all-rounder Faheem Ashraf, who opened the bowling for the first time in his Test career, left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz, and Abrar – the bespectacled leg-spinner who has easily topped the wicket-taking list in this season’s Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, Pakistan’s first-class domestic competition.
He was quickly into the action. After Crawley and Duckett had milked the seamers for 36 in eight overs, Abrar flicked one out of the front of his hand through Crawley’s gate. It wasn’t a leg-break, but it wasn’t a googly either, and England’s card had been marked.
Neither they nor Abrar backed down. Pope was given lbw for 11 as he missed a reverse sweep against Zahid Mahmood, only for replays to show he had gloved it. And Duckett, after bringing up a 40-ball half-century, survived in similar fashion against Abrar on 61.
But he didn’t get much further. With the total on 117, Duckett missed a conventional sweep, and this time Aleem Dar said not out. Pakistan reviewed: three reds. Was the game about to change?
Abrar has kept Pakistan in the game by dismissing five, setting things up nicely for after lunch
England advanced to 145 before the next review, by Abrar against Joe Root after Dar again said no. Again, Pakistan were vindicated. A leg-break pitched on leg stump, and beat Root’s back-foot defensive prod. DRS had it hitting the top of off, sparking jubilation among the fielders. Root made eight.
Three wickets down would have been an acceptable return for England, given the rate at which they had scored. But Abrar wasn’t done. Pope, having reached a run-a-ball 60, fluffed a reverse-sweep, which ballooned gently to Abdullah Shafique at backward point. And in Abrar’s next over, Harry Brook – one of the stars of Rawalpindi – miscued a skyer to mid-off.
On his first morning as a Test cricket, Abrar had five wickets, and Pakistan were in the game. Stokes has 14, and has only Will Jacks for company before Pakistan are into England’s bowlers.