A fine balance
I’ll bid you farewell for today by posting this wonderful interview between Michael Atherton and Mohammad Rizwan discussing, who else – Jimmy Anderson. A definite heartwarmer for a frosty December morning here in the UK.
We’ll be back in the wee small hours to bring you the conclusion of this fascinating Test match, it could go either way but it is definitely not going to end in a draw. Can Pakistan eke out the runs? Will England winkle the six wickets they need to take the series? Join us tomorrow to find out. Until then, goodbye!
Here is that magic ball from Jimmy Anderson to Rizwan. Merry Christmas.
Colum Fordham will be tuning in tomorrow morning, will you?
“A perfectly poised test match with that wicket of Leach’s just tilting the balance in England’s favour, It should be worth getting up early tomorrow morning to see what ensues. Great batting from the Pakistani left-handers. A wonderfully positive attitude from Stokes’ team.”
Stumps: Pakistan 198-4, they need 157 more runs to win
That’s all she wrote for the day. Joe Root sends down the final over of an absorbing day’s Test cricket with hyena fielders circling the bat. The umpires call time and the players head off the field, England weary but happy, Stokes high fives his men, that Imam wicket has given them some succour after a tough afternoon. This match is deliciously set up.
63rd over: Pakistan 195-4 (Saud Shakeel 53, Ashraf 1) Another probing over from Leach, we might only get one more in with the gloom setting in.
62nd over: Pakistan 192-4 (Saud Shakeel 51, Ashraf 0) Anderson has just the one over, Root replaces him with the light fading. England surround the bat, trying to sneak another before the close.
61st over: Pakistan 19o-4 (Saud Shakeel 50, Ashraf 0) Saud Shakeel had gone to a third consecutive fifty in and amongst the Imam wicket. A lot now rests on his shoulders as the set man. Leach has a grin as wide as Garfield’s. The sun has vanished, not long left now, Pakistan would dearly love to get through to the close unscathed.
WICKET! Imam-ul-Haq ct Root b Leach 60 (Pakistan 191-4)
A huge wicket! Leach tosses one up and Imam’s eyes light up as he looks to unfurl a drive… the ball just dips on the bespectacled batter and takes the outside edge which is well snaffled by Joe Root in the slips. England are energised, Imam leans over his bat, he can’t quite believe he’s given it away after all that hard graft. A chink of light for England.
60th over: Pakistan 19o-3 (Saud Shakeel 49, Imam 60) Time for James Anderson. The sun is dropping rapidly in Multan, we might only have twenty or so minutes left. Anderson is miserly and on the money, just a single from the first over back after drinks. Where’s your money on this one? It would make for a corker of a series if the teams head to Lahore for a decider on one apiece?
59th over: Pakistan 189-3 (Saud Shakeel 48, Imam 60) Pakistan are well and truly in this Test. Four relatively easy runs from Mark Wood’s latest and it is time for the last drink of the day. 166 to win for Pakistan, two well set batters and seven wickets in the hutch. Wonderfully poised.
Abishek Chopra is dropping some Sunday morning knowledge: “Multan is the birthplace of Har Gobind Khorana, a US biochemist of Indian descent who shared the 1968 Nobel for demonstrating the role of nucleotides in protein synthesis. England could do with some proteins to find a second wind against this determined Pakistani batting line up.”
58th over: Pakistan 186-3 (Saud Shakeel 46, Imam 59) Robinson struggles with his front foot, serving up a couple of no-balls in the over. “It was a case of once bitten and twice shy for Ben Stokes” Mike Atherton channels a bit of George Michael in ‘Last Christmas’ as he describes why Stokes was reticent to burn another review on a seemingly spurious shout. “Now I know what a fool I’ve been…”
57th over: Pakistan 183-3 (Saud Shakeel 46, Imam 56) A bit of drama! Wood goes up for a strangle down the leg-side, he thinks Imam got a feather of willow while trying to swat away a back of a length ball. Nothing from Ollie Pope behind the sticks and Stokes doesn’t go for the review. Next ball Imam square drives powerfully for four to bring up the 100 partnership between this pair. Hang on… the tv monitor shows a tiny flutter on the snicko ECG suggesting Imam has just got away with one.
56th over: Pakistan 178-3 (Saud Shakeel 45, Imam 54) Robinson bowls full and outside off stump as Stokes deploys a ring of three men in a tight ring on the drive. Imam scampers a couple off the last delivery and manages to drop his bat in the process.
55th over: Pakistan 176-3 (Saud Shakeel 45, Imam 52) Wood continues, he slams the ball into the middle of the pitch but even at his pace the ball simply groans and only gets to waist height. The floodlights whirr into action in Multan as the shadows lengthen, mirroring the partnership between Imam and Saud Shakeel.
54th over: Pakistan 175-3 (Saud Shakeel 45, Imam 51) Well batted Imam-ul-Haq, he brings up his half century with a controlled deflection off the returning Ollie Robinson.
53rd over: Pakistan 172-3 (Saud Shakeel 44, Imam 49) Wood is full and threatening, zoning in on stumps and pads. This will be a new challenge for these two now well set batters, the pitch still looks very flat. I wonder at what stage Stokes and co will start to get a bit jittery? David Gower reckons the pitch looks the best for batting right now as it has all game, he’d notch a few languid runs on this deck.
52nd over: Pakistan 171-3 (Saud Shakeel 44, Imam 48) More runs comfortably collected from England’ spinners. Imam thunders Leach through the covers to pick up another boundary. Stokes does indeed try to change it up, Mark Wood is coming on to whang some down.
G’morning Kim Thonger!
“Good morning James, I was rather hoping this match would last until Tuesday morning so that I’d have something fun to read at 6am in East Midlands Airport departure lounge. But since that’s now unlikely can anyone recommend an improving book instead? For clarity, Matt Hancock’s Pandemic ‘diary’ nonsense would NOT qualify.”
I’ll keep my paymasters on-side Kim by directing you to the Guardian Bookshop where you’ll find *all manner of excellent titles at competitive prices*. This match is currently well poised like a tightly plotted novel.
51st over: Pakistan 165-3 (Saud Shakeel 43, Imam 43) Pakistan have dominated the twenty minutes since tea, Leach leaks eight runs from his over. Off the last ball of the over Imam plays a princely back foot punch through the covers for four. I can see Wood, Robinson and Anderson limbering up. Maybe it’s time for one of those Stokes spells too? The home crowd are starting to cheer every run with a bit more vigour.
50th over: Pakistan 157-3 (Saud Shakeel 42, Imam 36) Root continues in his roundarm fashion and just a single is eked from his over. Anderson walks back onto the field, his captain might well toss him the ball in a few minutes.
49th over: Pakistan 156-3 (Saud Shakeel 42, Imam 35) Two boundaries clobbered off Leach, Saud Shakeel is happy to trot down and loft over the in-field. This is excellent batting, Stokes might need to go back to his seamers here to break this building partnership, the threat from his spinners has been well neutered by this pair of left-handers.
48th over: Pakistan 147-3 (Saud Shakeel 34, Imam 34) A single to each batter off Root, Robinson and Wood scamper back onto the field but still no sign of Anderson. Maybe he’s getting primed for a stint.
47th over: Pakistan 145-3 (Saud Shakeel 33, Imam 33) Imam smites a full ball from Leach just over the head of the fielder at mid-on, Rehan Ahmed perilously close in there. Pakistan have been excellent at balancing attack and defence.
46th over: Pakistan 137-3 (Saud Shakeel 32, Imam 26) Imam picks off a single, flaying Root into the deep but the boundary rider cuts it off. It looks a glorious early evening in Multan, clear skies and shadows just lengthening under the drooping sun. I can see frost on the car windscreens out of my condensation clad window in south London.
The players take the field after the break, Joe Root is going to start things off. England have a few sub-fielders on the pitch, seemingly the seam trio are off the field. Let’s hope it isn’t a return of the Rawalpindi lurgy…
I’m off for some speedy sustenance as the tv cuts back to the Sky studio with Stuart Broad under the Christmas tree rocking his ‘clerical menswear’ look. No comment.
Zaltz is on one:
45th over: Pakistan 136-3 (Saud 32, Imam 25) That’s tea. Stokes keeps the field up for Leach, daring Imam and Saud Shakeel to play their strokes… and they call his bluff – Saud uses his feat to lift Leach for consecutive boundaries and there ends an intriguing session. England’s seamers picked up three mouth-watering wickets in the first hour before Pakistan took the second hour, patiently playing England’s spinners and picking off the runs on offer.
Pakistan need 229 runs. England need 7 wickets. Don’t go anywhere.
44th over: Pakistan 128-3 (Saud 25, Imam 24) Wood sends down a mixture of yorkers and short balls, he hasn’t quite found his rhythm in this short spell and five runs are easily picked off, Pakistan chipping away at the vast target. We’ll have one more from Leach before the break.
43rd over: Pakistan 123-3 (Saud 23, Imam 21) Leach replaces Jacks who will have that shelled caught and bowled chance gnawing away at him the longer this partnership develops. Just a single off the over, Wood might squeeze in a final burst before tea.
42nd over: Pakistan 122-3 (Saud 22, Imam 21) Wood comes charging in, a slip in place and a leg gully. His speed is around the 85mph mark so he’s just cranking up really. Slightly off target with a couple of balls speared down the leg side which Ollie Pope does well to stop diving to his left like a ginger Gordon Banks.
41st over: Pakistan 119-3 (Saud 20, Imam 20) DROP! Imam bunts a full ball firmly back to Jacks at throat height and the bowler can’t hold on, the ball scorching his fingers and falling to the floor. Jacks turns his back in disgust and kicks the turf. He feels he should have caught it, they are always tricky. Mark Wood is coming back for a burst, Ben Stokes wants to break this partnership so gives his Durham teammate the nod to fire it up.
40th over: Pakistan 117-3 (Saud 19, Imam 19) A Root maiden. He’s enjoying this battle.
39th over: Pakistan 117-3 (Saud 19, Imam 19) Will Jacks once more, 90s boyband curtains bobbing up and down as he approaches the crease. Imam and Saud look comfortable against him, happy nudge and nurdle and keep the scoreboard ticking.
38th over: Pakistan 112-3 (Saud 15, Imam 18) Imam skips down and disdainfully plops Root back over his head for four. Lovely shot. Root is loving the battle though, all chirpy comments and glinting smiles. He’s on the prowl for his 50th Test wicket.
37th over: Pakistan 107-3 (Saud 14, Imam 14) Jacks continues and it is a tighter over than his first, the Surrey man’s high action sees more bounce extracted from the wicket but he’s slightly too short which allows both Saud and Imam to hang back in the crease. Athers impores him to bowl a bit fuller on the tv commentary.
36th over: Pakistan 106-3 (Saud 13, Imam 14) Tidy over from Leach, just a Saud single off it. ‘The Nut’ is flitting back and forth from over and around the wicket in order to keep the batters on their toes.
35th over: Pakistan 105-3 (Saud 12, Imam 14) Will Jacks is into the attack for his first bowl of the day. Seven runs are taken off him, Saud with a textbook back foot punch for four and a couple of neat late dabs to backward point. 100 up for Pakistan. The pitch still looks decent for batting, the result of this game still firmly up in the air for my moolah.
34th over: Pakistan 98-3 (Saud 5, Imam 14) Imam has shown intent since arriving at the crease, he’s featherlight on his feet as he rocks back and flat bats Leach powerfully through the covers for four. My toddler pads into the room clutching, a fluffy penguin and bellows ‘HELLOOOO! Tries to have a tap at my laptop kepypad and then pads off to find some mischief elsewhere. Sunday mornings on the OBO, lovely stuff.
33rd over: Pakistan 94-3 (Saud 5, Imam 10) Root whistles through his over, barely time for an OBO scribe to catch his breath or slurp his coffee. A maiden. Stokes is fielding at a sort of fly leg slip, there for the top edged sweep.
32nd over: Pakistan 94-3 (Saud 5, Imam 10) Leach whirls away, he’s getting decent grip and turn off this surface. Imam looks to get after him and knock him off his line, skipping down and chipping him down the ground for a couple. It was slightly uppish and a bit mistimed. Stokes tinkers with his field, he’s more than happy to see Pakistan play their shots. It’s cat and mouse at the minute.
31st over: Pakistan 92-3 (Saud 5, Imam 8) Root very nearly snares another… Saud Shakeel drops down for a sweep but the ball skips onto him and he top edges high into the Multan sky but Wood is too far back on the fence to be able to make up the ground to grab it. Root licks his lips and skips back to his mark.
30th over: Pakistan 90-3 (Saud 4, Imam 7) Jack Leach is summoned for a twirl and he’s on the money, decent flight and dip, probing away at the front pad. Just a couple nurdled off it from Imam. Joe Root is going to turn his arm over from the other end.
29th over: Pakistan 88-3 (Saud 4, Imam 5) Thanks Dan and hellOBO. What a time to
be alive take over the reins. England are prising the Pakistan batting line up open with a masterclass of seam bowling. Each wicket so far in this innings duking it our for prime position in the highlight reels. That Wood wicket hooped in deliciously, a Kenco spiller of a delivery at this end. Imam is the new bat and he’s underway with a meaty outside edge off Wood that skims away wide of the slips for four.
And that’s drinks which means it’s time for Jimbo Wallace. I enjoyed that (despite the early wake-up). It’s been a great morning and a bit. First Pakistan were on top after claiming the five scalps they needed before dominating with the bat in a 66 run opening stand. But three wickets from the England seamers has them in control.
Thanks all. Over to you Jim.
WICKET! Shafique b Wood 45 (Pakistan 83-3)
Wood has uprooted Shafique’s off stump with a ripper. No uneven bounce there. That is just excellent fast bowling off a good length that beat the batter for pace. The commentators suggest it kept a little low, and maybe it did a touch, but I’m not sure that’s why England have their third. Speed. That’s what did Shafique. The extra effort was made apparent by Wood tumbling over after he released the ball.
28th over: Pakistan 83-2 (Shafique 45, Saud 4) That’s a stinker from Leach, the first poor ball England have bowled this session. The drag down is given the business by Shafique who bludgeons it disdainfully towards cow corner with a cross bat thwack. Shafique also picks up a single before Brook puts down a sharp chance at short leg. That came quickly off Saud’s bat. One of those ones that needs to stick. It didn’t this time.
John Starbuck has some sympathy for England’s forgotten man:
“Kevin Wilson is right about the players he mentions, but one he doesn’t is Will Jacks. The poor guy has bowled only four overs in all the match for no reward, and if he doesn’t get the chance to do any more he’s the most droppable player should Ben Foakes come back in the 3rd Test. Wake up, Stokesie!”
27th over: Pakistan 77-2 (Shafique 40, Saud 3) Anderson toils away. He’s got two slips, a gully and a silly mid-off for Saud. Clear plan to get him to chase one away from his off stump. But Anderson is too full so Saud can nudge the ball for a single behind square on the leg side. That brings Shafique on strike and, again, the plan is clear. A short mid-on means he’ll look to target the stumps. Shafiue plays a lovely on drive but a diving Stokes cuts it off.
26th over: Pakistan 76-2 (Shafique 40, Saud 2) Leach is back and immediately the Shafique looks more confident. He moves to 40 with a lofted inside out drive that plugs for two in the covers. Leach won’t mind a few shots.
25th over: Pakistan 74-2 (Shafique 38, Saud 2) Anderson over pitches and Shafique times his checked drive well, but not well enough to reach the rope. He gets three for that. Anderson is looking for the sucker punch and almost gets it from round the wicket as he jags one back, narrowly missing Saud’s off stump as the batter leaves. After watching Babar get bowled shouldering arms I’d be terrified to make the same mistake and would play at everything. Then again, I’m not a Test cricketer.
Kevin Wilson speaks for many English fans here when he says:
“A couple of years ago I’d have been pretty cynical about England’s immediate Test future. We were relying on Root for runs and his captaincy was less than inspired. Anderson still holding the bowling together and surely he couldn’t go on forever? And now? Bairstow back with a bang and Crawley and Pope showing more consistency. Duckett back to provide solidity and assertiveness at the top of the order. Brook looking like he’s been here for years. Robinson immediately appears to be our Glenn McGrath and Leach continues to chip in with the ball. And at the heart of it all is Ben Stokes, the man for whom nothing is seemingly impossible.”
Exciting times if you’re an England fan, that’s for sure.
24th over: Pakistan 71-2 (Shafique 35, Saud 2) Wood continues and he slowly starts to pull his length back. If I were advising him I’d recommend he sticks to that short of a length area. Two of the balls he digs in fail to rise as they ordinarily would on a more bouncy strip. When the bowler is reaching those speeds that can be a real handful. Just a single off an inside edge for Shafique who deserves credit for keeping control amidst the chaos at the other end.
There are cricket stats and there are cricket stats. This is one of the latter:
23rd over: Pakistan 70-2 (Shafique 34, Saud 2) Robinson is round the wicket to the left handed Saud with a slip and three men catchers in the eye line. One is stationed at a short point. Not a silly point, but a dead-square gully of sorts. Not that they’re needed. Saud is watchful and neatly behind the line as he blocks out a maiden that is targeted at his sticks.
Name change. I’ve been alerted that I should be using Saud, and not Shakeel, when referring to Saud Shakeel. So if you’ve noticed a name change, that’s why.
22nd over: Pakistan 70-2 (Shafique 34, Saud 2) Wood replaces Anderson. A quick commendation for Stokes who has rotated his bowlers perfectly, in my opinion.
Wood has a leg slip but is targeting the stumps, as he should given the uneven nature of the surface. One short ball to Shakeel is swivelled with control out to deep square and that’s the only run from the over.
21st over: Pakistan 69-2 (Shafique 34, Shakeel 1) A comparative deluge after the lunch break with Shakeel getting off the mark with a dab through an empty slip cordon and Robinson over stepping for a total of two from the over. There’s a leg slip but Robinson isn’t tempted to go short just yet. He sticks with a full length and Shafique is forward and resolute with a firm defence. He’s almost done a Babar later on by shouldering arms to a nip-backer that comes close to that off stump.
20th over: Pakistan 67-2 (Shafique 34, Shakeel 0) Another maiden from Anderson who is frankly astounding. He just defies logic, doesn’t he. Immaculate lines with fielders catching in front of square. he’s asking questions with every ball. Shafique is answering them with a full face but he can’t get away. After scoring at 4.5 an over before the break, Pakistan have registered three runs for two wickets from five overs since lunch.
19th over: Pakistan 67-2 (Shafique 34, Shakeel 0) Brilliant from Robinson. He has his first wicket and a maiden as well. He must be such a nightmare to face with his height but it’s the seam that works a treat here. He kept probing on that length until he brought it back in. You’ve got to do something special to bowl Babar Azam and that was special. The ball before the wicket was full and invited the drive. Perhaps that made Babar reluctant to play at anything that wasn’t 100% drivable.
WICKET! Babar b Robinson 1 (Pakistan 67-2)
Babar has left the wrong one and lost his off stump! That’s a top delivery from Robinson. What did England have for lunch? A perfect length brings Babar forward. A perfect line creates doubt in the mind and has him shouldering arms. The perfect amount of seam off the surface brings it back into the right hander and directs it towards off the top of off. Superb bowling. He’s done the double on Pakistan’s skipper in this Test and England are firmly on top now.
Get a load of this
18th over: Pakistan 67-1 (Shafique 34, Babar 1) Anderson is moving it both ways now. One holds it’s line and tests Babar’s outside edge. Another hoops in – admittedly too much and Pope has to dive to save four runs down the leg side, but still, how does Anderson do that? He’s got a leg slip, a short cover, a short midwicket and a straight-ish short mid-on. He’s looking to hit the stumps. Babar gets off the mark with a tickle backward of square and Shafique blocks out the final ball.
17th over: Pakistan 66-1 (Shafique 34, Babar 0) Two men catching in front of square on the off side for Robinson and Shafique is happy to bunt it with soft hands. A maiden for the lanky bowler who hits a good line back of a length.
Please go find a replay of that if you haven’t seen it yet. Truly one of the great deliveries of our time.
16th over: Pakistan 66-1 (Shafique 34, Babar 0) Rizwan couldn’t believe he’d just been bowled. He stood there for some time, incredulous that a ball angling in towards his leg stump could have taken the top of off. He’d collected two runs earlier in the over but he’ll now wish he settled for just one as he’d have been at the other end watching Shafique try to deal with that unplayable ball. Just marvellous from Anderson.
WICKET! Rizwan b Anderson 30 (Pakistan 66-1)
Jaffa! Peach! A beauty! A ripper! Any other suggestions to describe that ball? Save your breath. None of them will come close. Given the context of the game, given the context of the pitch they’re playing on, that is as good a delivery as you’ll ever see. He’s only five balls into his first over of the innings and Jimmy Anderson produces a gem. Angled in towards the right hander, just enough seam off the deck, it squared Rizwan and knocked the top of off stump. What a ball. What a player. What a legend.
"Daniel, Rosy-fingered Dawn peeping over the horizon, even after breakfast. At last.”
That’s lovely John Starbuck. Thank you. Yup, some rays peeping in through the window and the cries of my 2 year old to greet the dawn.
And Jimmy’s got the ball in his hands as the players make their way to the middle.
Lunch: Pakistan 64-0 (290 runs behind)
That is undoubtedly Pakistan’s session. They snaffled five English wickets for 79 runs and then score at 4.26 an over without losing one of their own.
Rizwan has been aggressive but it has been Shafique’s control that has stood out for the hosts. They’re a long way behind and England will still fancy themselves as favourites, but we’ve got a game on our hands.
Leach opened the bowling and found drift and turn but little consistency as probing balls were all too often followed up by a dud. Wood thought he had the breakthrough when he clattered Rizwan on the pads from a skidding shirt ball but a small tickle of the bat saved the batter on review.
I’d say that’s breakfast time. Hope you find something tasty in the fridge. See you soon.
15th over: Pakistan 64-0 (Shafique 34, Rizwan 28) Wood’s over brings the session to a close. Shafique adds six to the total and knocks six off the required target by taking on the bouncer. It catches his top edge and flies over a very fine leg. No chance for the fielder down there. Surprisingly Wood doesn’t bowl another bumper and instead keeps it full or back of a length. Shafique doesn’t mind that and gets behind it well even though it’s well north of 90mph.
14th over: Pakistan 57-0 (Shafique 28, Rizwan 27) Leach starts with a gem. Drift and turn again as it beats Shafique past the outside edge. Unfortunately for England their primary spinner can’t string an entire over together and he gets too full from the final ball. That allows Shafique to get low and sweep with confidence, knowing he can smother the turning ball. He rolls his wrists and strikes it firmly towards backward square leg for four.
Wonder what Jimmy is thinking
13th over: Pakistan 53-0 (Shafique 24, Rizwan 27) Mark Wood into the attack. That’s a good move from Stokes as the extra pace could be a handful on an uneven surface. So it proves as one dug in short doesn’t climb as expected and thuds into Rizwan’s pad as he looks to swivel it behind square with a horizontal bat. Up goes the umpire’s finger but Rizwan reviews. He knows he’s hit it. If he hadn’t done so he’d be unpadding as we speak. Wood loses his line with his final ball and Rizwan frees his arms by slapping it to deep third for two on the front foot.
Not out! Clear inside edge. Rizwan survives.
That kept low and thudded into Rizwan’s pad. Only an edge will save him. Otherwise he’s plumb.
12th over: Pakistan 51-0 (Shafique 24, Rizwan 25) Lovely from Leach. Flight, drift, sharp turn and bounce. That narrowly misses Shafique’s outside edge. If he can bowl six of those ever over he’ll collect a five-for for sure. Unfortunately for Leach, his follow up ball is down the leg side and a tickle sees it go for two off the inside edge. That brings up the 50 partnership for the opening stand.
11th over: Pakistan 47-0 (Shafique 21, Rizwan 24) England need to be patient here. They have enough time and runs in the bank to bide their time. But that burned review is a sign that they’re starting to get a little antsy. It always looked like it was pitching outside of Shafique’s leg stump and the replays show it wasn;t even hitting the wickets. Root looked confident, but perhaps more in hope after Shafique brought out the sweep. That delivery went for two leg-byes and Shafique collected a single towards deep backward square. Some lift in the over for Root. Patience fellas. Just stick with it.
10th over: Pakistan 43-0 (Shafique 20, Rizwan 23) Leach again. They’re showing replays of a corker of a ball that bowled Shafique in the first innings. That one pitched on leg and clipped the top of off. There’s nothing like that here. Leach is a little too short and Rizwan is able to get back and punch a two towards deep point and then slap a single off the back foot to deep cover. Shafique is watchful for three balls as Leach finds a bit of turn away from him.
9th over: Pakistan 40-0 (Shafique 20, Rizwan 20) Root continues and zips through his over with a mostly flat trajectory. Hard to see him provide the breakthrough bowling like that, but you never know. There is some turn for the former skipper but he’s too close to leg stump to trouble the batters who collect three singles between them.
8th over: Pakistan 37-0 (Shafique 19, Rizwan 18) Better from Leach. His first ball is short and wide and is cut behind square for four by Shafique, but he tidies things up and even beats the outside edge two balls later. That drifted and turned from around the wicket and moved past Shafique’s dangling blade. More of that and he’ll be in business.
Here’s a good question from John Starbuck:
“What are the chances that Jimmy doesn’t get to bowl until after lunch? More Stokes’s thinking outside the box.”
Reverse swing will be a factor. Perhaps he’s saving him for later? Then again, a new ball is a new ball, and it’ll only start reversing after some time I’d have thought. If I was in charge I’d have given Anderson one or two, just to see if something might’ve happened.
7th over: Pakistan 33-0 (Shafique 15, Rizwan 18) Joe Root replaces Ollie Robinson. There’s an appeal for lbw after Rizwan is hit on the pad while sweeping, but the ball is clearly going over the top. Rizwan sweeps again and nails it backward of square for four. He then takes two with a slap through the covers off the front foot and rounds out Root’s first set with a back foot cut behind square for four more. Rizwan is taking the fight to England.
6th over: Pakistan 23-0 (Shafique 15, Rizwan 8) Leach starts the over by beating Rizwan in the air. The Pakistan batter charges down the pitch but doesn’t get to it so has to launch into a heaved drive. He catches enough of it to get three over Jimmy Anderson’s head.
Shafique then shows how to do it. He comes down to Leach as well but he’s fully in control of a lofted on drive that is devoid of any flourishing bat but stacked full of timing. What a cricket shot that is. Maybe the best of the match and it sails effortlessly for a might six.
Shafique closes out the over with a clip to the midwicket fence. Loads of timing in that as well. Great batting.
5th over: Pakistan 10-0 (Shafique 5, Rizwan 5) Robinson keeps plugging away around the top of off. It won’t be easy for the seamers who will have to be patient. Rizwan gets three from the over with a nudge off his hips worth two and then a single past point. Robinson digs one in to Shafique and manages to get it over his head, but only after the batter stoops low to duck underneath it.
Kevin Tong, you beauty!
“Hey Daniel. Greetings from Singapore!! Just to let you know, I fell in love with cricket BECAUSE of The Guardian’s OBO, so please keep up the great work! I’m not sure whether it’s available in every country, but where I am the Pakistan Cricket Board is streaming the entire Test match on its Youtube channel with the official commentary. This might help those looking for the overseas TMS link! Cheers!!
P.s. Here’s today’s link if it helps anybody”
You’re a good ‘un Kev. Thanks for helping out.
4th over: Pakistan 7-0 (Shafique 5, Rizwan 2) Two slips, a forward short leg and a short extra cover for Leach who is in to his work, toiling away around the off stump. He’ll be asked to bowl a lot of overs here. This is a tidy one. Worth two runs from Shafique’s blade as he inside-edges a couple towards mid-on. Robinson’s dive and miss means they get back for the second.
How’s this for a cracking stat (which I’m stealing from Cricinfo’s live feed).
In the last 75 years, only two England spinners have opened the bowling in both innings of a men’s Test, other than Jack Leach in this game.
Gareth Batty v Bangladesh, Chattogram 2016
Tony Greig v West Indies, Port of Spain 1974.
3rd over: Pakistan 5-0 (Shafique 3, Rizwan 2) It’s a sure sign that this pitch is dead and dying as Robinson has a three catchers in front of the wickets – one straight on the off side, one in the covers and another at short midwicket – to go along with a short leg and just one slip. He’s bowling wicket to wicket which is the right tactic as one might keep low. None do and Shafique gets off strike with a clip to deep square while Rizwan can’t find a gap pushing forward towards the off side.
2nd over: Pakistan 4-0 (Shafique 2, Rizwan 2) It’s Jack Leach with the new ball and that is a great start from my fellow baldy. His third ball is a ripper that takes the outside edge of Shafique and balloons over slip, just out of Joe Root’s reach. Rizwan, a surprise opener himself, tries to sweep but misses with a hefty swipe of the blade. He is off the mark after skipping down the pitch and swatting it through midwicket for a couple.
1st over: Pakistan 1-0 (Shafique 1, Rizwan 0) Ollie Robinson gets us underway for this fourth and final innings. He’s on the money, except for one ball that allows Abdullah Shafique to clip a single out towards long leg. Mohammad Rizwan is the other opener and he’s content with bunting the ball towards the covers with soft hands.
England all out for 275, Pakistan require 355 to win
That turned out to be a pretty good morning for Pakistan. When they started the day, Brook and Stokes were in a belligerent mood and a target north of 400 was on the cards. Brook got his ton and Stokes equalled Brendon McCullum’s record for most sixes in Test cricket but then Abrar dismissed the skipper and some sharp fielding helped bundle out the rest.
Abrar ends his debut match with figures if 11-234. A quite remarkable introduction to what is supposed to be the toughest format in the game.
England have plenty of runs to play with and will back themselves of wrapping the series up (they might even do it today).
But with a seam heavy attack perhaps Pakistan have a shot. All 20 English wickets fell to spin and that might give the home side some hope that the tourists are a little imbalanced.
I’m off to grab my second cuppa of the morning. Speak in a few.
WICKET! Anderson lbw Zahid 4 (England 275 all-out)
Oh Jimmy! Never change. First ball reverse sweep for four. Second ball poked back to the bowler. Third ball he misses the conventional sweep and is struck dead in front and has to trudge off. He reviews, but only because there’s one in the bank.
England are all out – with all 10 20 wickets falling to spin – and have a lead of 354.
WICKET! Brook c Shakeel b Zahid 108 (England 271-9)
And that is that. Brook, sensing that he might soon run out of partners, launches into a leg side hack but gets underneath it and skies it out towards Shakeel in the deep. It’s a tricky catch made simple and Brook has to trudge off. What a knock. What a player. Whisper it quietly but this kid is special. Actually, tell your friends and family members. Bombard them round the Christmas table. Be annoying over the holidays with the amount of love you give Harry Brook. He deserves it.
64th over: England 271-8 (Brook 108, Leach 0) Abrar is a lovely bowler, isn’t he? There’s an appeal for an edge but it seems to have missed everything. Leach looks bemused and a little sheepish that he didn’t pick the googly. Don’t worry, Jack. Better batters than you have had the same struggles against this youngster. Brook takes a single. He seems content for the time being to keep it simple. Will he let loose soon?
You just had to show off with your sun and blue skies, didn’t you Phil?
63rd over: England 270-8 (Brook 107, Leach 0) A top first over from Mahmood who kicks off with a wicket maiden. Wood looked uncomfortable throughout that set. Swishing and missing once, prodding later on. It was a poke that did it, along with a neat grab by the Pakistan captain in the slips. Jack Leach comes to the crease. Will be bring out the switch-hit again? Oh please oh please oh please…
WICKET! Wood c Babar b Mahmood 6 (England 270-8)
Smart cricket from Pakistan and their skipper who makes the bowling change and gets the instant reward. Zahid Mahmood comes on and his leg spin immediately troubles Wood. He’s on the back foot to the fifth ball and pokes at it with trepidation. A thickish edge just about carries to Babar who holds on well.
62nd over: England 270-7 (Brook 107, Wood 6) Bang! Wood gets in on the fun by climbing into Abrar’s flighted delivery and meeting it with a crunchy slog sweep. It’s harrumphed in front of square and clears the rope after bouncing once. A single apiece means it’s six from the over and the lead is now 349.
Good morning Brian Withington. Keeping warm I hope.
”Already well worth the 4:45am awakening - never a dull moment with this England side at the moment. Abrar great to watch too. And what a catch to dismiss Ben Stokes.”
Bang on. They’re a cracking team to watch whatever your loyalties.
61st over: England 264-7 (Brook 106, Wood 1) Brook flicks Nawaz for a couple and then trades a couple of singles for one from Wood. A new rhythm has settled. Brook rebuilding before an offensive to come.
“400 total for a declaration? Will we be 300 all out?”
I think they’ll just keep batting and see where they land up AM (or Super Barnsley, according to your email address).
“Was looking at Cooky’s career stats, and he hung up his England spurs at 33. Too soon? Surely so. The touring probably did it for him.”
Funny, now that England have been Bazzballing we haven’t heard much of Cook. But I’m with you. He could probably still do a job at this level.
60th over: England 259-7 (Brook 102, Wood 0) A wicket maiden for Abrar. What a game he’s having. Robinson’s wicket is his 11th of the match. Wood is more watchful than Robinson but is still beaten on the outside edge with a rip snorter that spits off the turf. If Wood can keep Brook company that lead of 341 yet.
Thanks for joining us Pete!
WICKET! Robinson b Abrar 3 (England 259-7)
Better batters than Ollie Robinson have already been bowled by Abrar Ahmed’s googly. But he’ll be annoyed by the optics of this dismissal. He comes down the pitch and unfurls a pretty ugly swipe. The head is nowhere, the hands are in a different postcode to the ball. The plink of leather on wood behind him brings about his early demise.
59th over: England 259-6 (Brook 102, Robinson 3) That Stokes wicket brings Ollie Robinson to the crease. England lead by 338 and will be aiming for 400 I’d think before contemplating a declaration. Still plenty of time in the game so the more the merrier, as far as England are concerned. The new batter is off the mark with a couple off his hips and then keeps the strike with a single into the covers.
That is a weird feeling, Brendan. But you might be right.
WICKET! Stokes c Ali b Nawaz 41 (England 256-6)
That is some catch out in the deep. Stokes goes across his crease and looks to heave it towards deep square. He catches it well but not as well as a diving Ali who plucks out a screamer, diving to his left. Fantastic cricket. Stokes won’t mind too much. That’s another breezy cameo from the skipper.
58th over: England 265-5 (Brook 102, Stokes 41) Stokes clatters a mighty maximum down the ground with a delightful swing of his blade, meeting Abrar’s full ball just after it pitches. There’s a drop at slip. Was it dropped? Yes, I think so. Was a tough chance if it was but Babar couldn’t get his fingers under the ball and it squirts away for three. England are climbing through the gears.
57th over: England 245-5 (Brooke 101, Stokes 31) Mohammad Nawaz comes into the attack but he can’t stop to bleeding. Stokes takes a single off the first ball and Brook pelts the final delivery of the over for four in front of square off the back foot. That’s three figures for the 23-year-old as England’s lead climbs to 324.
Hundred for Harry Brook
And what a way to bring it up. He rocks back and thwacks Mohammad Nawaz’s short ball for four. He doesn’t quite get hold of it but he he gets enough to see it trickle to the boundary. What a talent. 153 & 87 in the first Test. Now he’s got a second Test ton. Brilliant.
“Morning from a freezing Kent where I’m trying to get a restless baby to sleep - obviously a very small sample size but I can’t remember the last time an English batsman looked such a good fit for test cricket as Harry Brook. Just seems to have everything. Hopefully not a flash in the pan!”
Hi William Vignoles. Andy Zaltzman once told me that he’d timed the birth of his two children to coincide with away Ashes series, just so he wouldn’t mind staying up at ungodly hours with them. At least you’ve got the cricket to keep your mind sharp.
“Also it’s wonderful for test cricket to be back on Pakistan, making being up in the small hours somewhat bearable. Cheers for being there with us!”
My pleasure! And yes, it’s wonderful having Pakistan back and hosting as they should.
56th over: England 240-5 (Brook 97, Stokes 30) Brook moves into the 90s with a delicious slog sweep and then progresses to 97 by pouncing on an Abrar drag down and launching it out to cow corner for four more. Quality batting.
Is this the best value for money ticket anywhere in the world?
55th over: England 232-5 (Brook 89, Stokes 30) Pakistan’s bowlers have lost their way a touch. Ali’s first ball of the over is pushed down the leg side and Brook just needs to get a tickle on it to send it skipping towards the fine leg fence. Ali corrects his line and keeps Brook honest for the rest of the set but can’t prevent him from retaining the strike with a nudge through the covers.
54th over: England 227-5 (Brook 84, Stokes 30) That’s the shot of the morning as Brook skips down the track, meets Abrar’s flighted ball and times his lifted drive to perfection down the ground, adding four more to his total. He gets another four after punishing a rare drag down with a biffed pull before keeping the strike with a single.
53rd over: England 218-5 (Brook 76, Stokes 30) Ali continues over the wicket. Stokes is looking to get a move on. Ge gets three down to deep square leg with a conventional flick and bludgeons four in front of square with a meat mow. It’s not coming on to the bat but Stokes won’t mind as he tries to heave it with brute strenght. Brooks takes a dabbed single through the off side.
52nd over: England 209-5 (Brook 75, Stokes 23) Just a single off the over with Stokes nurdling one past short leg. It was in the air but would have been some take. Brooke survives a review but the replays show he was always safe.
Not out. It’s a flat line all the way through Ultra Edge. Abrar pushes it down leg and Brook looks to play the sweep fine. There was a noise, at least one the Pakistan players heard. But no dice.
Pakistan review. Abrar and Rizwan behind the stumps are convinced Brook has got something on this sweep…
51st over: England 208-5 (Brook 74, Stokes 22) There’s a surprise. It’s not spin from both ends with Mohammad Ali bowling the second over of the morning with some seam. Stokes immediately trots down the pitch but checks his drive straight to the man at short extra cover. He takes a couple with a flourishing flick off his hips wide of fine leg. Ali adjusts he line and gets it to keep low as the ball swooshes past Stoke’s off stump. Might be worth going round the wicket if that sort of thing continues to bring in lbw. Stokes takes a single off the final ball by double stepping and blocking towards mid-off but he also gets told off by umpire Marais Erasmus for running down the middle of the wicket.
50th over: England 202-5 (Brook 74, Stokes 19) Abrar is quicker and flatter to start. He’s pushing Stokes on the back foot until a flighted ball is met with a meaty reverse sweep that spins away for a couple towards the off side. A nudged cut gets the England skipper a single before Brook bunts his first delivery of the day for no run.
Right, here we go… Abrar has the ball in his hand. Stokes to face up first.
The glasses are back! I repeat. The GLASSES ARE BACK!
Stuart Broad looks like he’s auditioning for the role of Paul Dano’s stunt double in There Will Be Blood.
“Hi. I’m following from Hawke’s Bay in New Zealand, where it’s warm but raining on and off. Is there a link for TMS for overseas listeners this time?”
Hi Susanna. Great to hear from you. Unfortunately I’m at a loss. I’ll do my best to find out. If there are any readers out there who can help please do.
And while we’re brewing that coffee and making some toast, why not sink your teeth into Ali Martin’s report from Day 2:
Good morning all. Or good afternoon if you’re joining from somewhere that isn’t cold, dark and frosty England. It’s great to be with you as I wipe the sleep from my eyes on the morning after the night before.
Is it wrong to mention the football? Let’s get it out of the way shall we? There, I mentioned it. Enough of that (I’ll do my best not to do it again).
At least there’s one sport where the Three Lions are roaring proudly. England begin the third day of this second Test in Pakistan in firm control. 281 runs ahead and in the driver’s seat as they hurtle towards a series claiming victory.
Harry Brook is not out on 74 and Ben stokes is on 16 with England 202-5. The magical debutant, who already has 10 for the match, Abrar Ahmed has 3-81 in this dig.
What’s a good score here? Well thankfully they don’t bat half slow, these English batters. So they won’t be thinking if declarations just yet.
I’m off to knock together a much needed coffee. Speak in a bit.