Pakistan not going to go down without a fight


Pakistan mounted a spirited reply to England’s mammoth first innings total of 657 on Friday as the opening test between the sides turned into a veritable run-fest on a lifeless track in Rawalpindi.

After nearly five sessions in the field, Pakistan displayed their stomach for a fight to finish day two on 181 for no loss, still 476 runs behind, in what has become a batting contest with more than 800 runs scored across the two days.

After four English batters smashed hundreds on Thursday, Imam-ul-Haq (90) and Abdullah Shafique (89) were closing in on their centuries when bad light stopped play.

Earlier resuming on 506-4, England continued to bat with a take-no-prisoners attitude and went on to post their highest total against Pakistan.

Skipper Ben Stokes nonchalantly stepped out to smash the second ball of the day over bowler Naseem Shah’s head for a six en route to an 18-ball 41.

Naseem (3-140), leading a Pakistan attack which contained three debutants, had his revenge four balls later when he clean-bowled the England captain.

Liam Livingstone fell for nine in his debut test but overnight batsman Harry Brook (153) was simply unstoppable.

The 23-year-old, who smashed six fours in a Saud Shakeel over on Thursday, once again embodied England’s highly entertaining brand of cricket milking 27 runs from a Zahid Mahmood over.

Leg spinner Zahid bled 235 runs, the most by any test debutant in 33 overs for his four wickets.

Naseem finally ended Brook’s 116-ball blitz, which contained five sixes and 19 fours and England added 151 runs to their overnight score before being all out.

Their run rate of 6.5 is the highest for any team in a test innings of 100-plus overs.

If England batted with gusto, Pakistan replied with grit and approached the match in a more conventional way.

While Imam and Abdullah could not match the jaw-dropping strike rate of their English counterparts, their dogged partnership ensured Pakistan remain in the contest on a track which offered nothing for the bowlers on either side.

James Anderson nearly got Abdullah caught behind on 64 but replays confirmed the ball had touched the ground before nestling in the glove of a diving Ollie Pope.

Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ramiz Raja did not hide his disappointment with the pitch.

“It is embarrassing for us, especially when you have a cricketer as chairman,” the former Pakistan captain told reporters during the lunch break.

“This is not a good advert for cricket. We’re a better cricketing nation than this.”

England, on their first test tour of Pakistan since 2005, are also scheduled to play in Multan and Karachi.

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