ENGLAND’S bowlers were given their own tough medicine as Pakistan made a strong start in trying to save the First Test.
It shows that Ben Stokes and his players will have to work hard to force a result on a pitch in Rawalpindi that is flatter and less responsive than freshly-laid tarmac.
Pakistan openers Abdullah Shafique and Imam-ul-Haq were both closing in on centuries and endured only the occasional alarm during their partnership.
The pair played what might be termed traditional Test cricket after England had continued hammering along at a run-rate rarely if ever previously witnessed.
Harry Brook took his personal total to 153 from just 115 deliveries after Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett and Ollie Pope also scored centuries on day one.
Brook had already taken six fours from an over by left-arm spinner Saud Shakeel and he went even better in the pre-lunch session on the second day.
He helped himself to 6, 4, 4, 4, 6 and 3 – a total of 27 runs – against the wrist-spin of debutant Zahid Mahmood. It was the most runs scored in an over by an England batsman.
The previous record was 24 by Ian Botham against New Zealand in 1986 and Brook himself the previous day.
So Brook now holds the record and joint-second best for England’s two most productive overs in Test history. And he’s only batted twice in Test cricket.
After England’s astonishing batting on day one – when they plundered 506-4 in just 75 overs – Stokes made his intentions immediately clear by advancing down the pitch to his first delivery of day two and whacking quick bowler Naseem Shah for a straight six.
Stokes did not last the over, however, when he was bowled. England continued pressing the accelerator and even the loss of regular wickets scarcely slowed their scoring.
Liam Livingstone and Will Jacks, both playing their first Tests, perished in pursuit of quick runs while Brook eventually holed out to deep square leg. Even No.9 Ollie Robinson made 37 before being lbw.
England’s total might have been short of the 1,000 that Crawley joked about, it was still the highest they have ever made in Asia – beating the 652-7 against India in Chennai in 1984-85.
The tempo naturally dropped when Pakistan batted but Shafique and Imam still looked to punish any loose deliveries.
The pitch offered hardly any spin and England’s attempts to find reverse swing were in vain.
There were a couple of difficult chances to Duckett and sub fielder Keaton Jennings at short leg and Pope, keeping wicket in the absence of Ben Foakes, failed to cling onto an offering down the legside from Shafique on 54.
England bowlers will need to conjure some magic to take a lead in the series – especially as bad light is stripping big chunks of overs from the game.
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