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A Lord’s Master class: Pakistan v England 2016, First Test , Day 1

If ever there was a setting for a fairytale, the first test of the tour at Lords provided us exactly that. The home of cricket where past greats including Tendulkar and Lara have tried in vain to get their names on the honours board. At the fall of the 3rd wicket strode Misbah. First test in England. First test at Lords. Pressure, what pressure? By the end of the day he had done just that; got his name on the honours boards with a sparkling hundred at first attempt at Lords. The fairytale had been completed.

Earlier in the day, Pakistan won the toss and elected to bat on what seemed to be a pretty even surface. Misbah has not had much luck with the coin but this time be called correctly. Hafeez had been under lot of pressure due to failures in both the first class games. But knowing Hafeez, one had a feeling he would come good when it mattered. He did exactly that. He played and missed early on and had some freakish edges as well but he stuck around and did precisely what was required of him; sticking around. He drove majestically and seemed well set for a Lords half century when he mistimed his pull shot in the air. A solid start had been provided.

Shan Masood on the other hand was a bit more circumspect. He would’ve been better off trying to play some shots as well. It was the magnanimity of the occasion that finally got to him when he edged one to the keeper. Once again, a lesser known bowler got amongst the wickets as is quite often the case with Pakistani batsmen. Nothing to be taken away from Chris Woakes as he stuck to his line and was amply rewarded.

Azhar Ali did not last long but was a bit unlucky with the decision. With back to back hundreds in the first class games, much was expected of him. But knowing Azhar, he is bound to make a comeback and make the opportunities count. It was in England that he started his test career and his 92 not out in the third test at the Oval was instrumental in Pakistan winning one game on that ill-fated tour.

Younis has already done enough to be forever remembered as one of Pakistan’s greatest if not the greatest test batsman. So there are always high expectations when he walks out to bat. He was going along nicely but his exaggerated movement at the crease resulted in his downfall. Broad getting his first wicket of the day.

At 134 for 4, Pakistan were in a spot of bother but then walked in the most consistent no. 6 batsman going around in world cricket; Asad Shafiq. Asad has done remarkably well in the lower middle order and has made the no. 6 spot his own. Surely, he will rise to 4 or 5 once the two stalwarts call it a day. Asad along with his captain produced a master class of batting. Boundaries, sharp singles, nudges, it was all there. Asad brought up a fine fifty and was looking set to get to three figures but was denied by some indecision on his part. Had he left the ball, he would surely have been not out at the end of the day.

Couple of late wickets to Chris Woakes have slightly evened out the contest but surely the day belongs to Pakistan and more so to their captain the 42 years young Misbah ul Haq. The loss of Shafiq may hurt Pakistan as it could turn out to be the eventual difference in Pakistan getting 450 or 350. With Misbah still around and Sarfraz to follow, Pakistan would do well to push the score beyond 350 and one feels that it would be required if they are to challenge a strong English lineup at a ground which has not been producing many results lately.

Misbah should sleep well. He deserves all the applause and the accolades. But the job is half done and he needs to stick around for another session at least to ensure his team gets a good total first up to put pressure on the Englishmen.






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