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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Taha Hashim (earlier) and Rob Smyth (later)

Pakistan trail England by 29 runs at stumps: third Test, day two – as it happened

Jack Leach sweeps the ball as England eked out a 50-run first-innings lead in Karachi.
Jack Leach sweeps the ball as England eked out a 50-run first-innings lead in Karachi. Photograph: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

That’s it for today. Thanks for your company, your emails, your questions and your statgasms. Taha Hashim and Tim de Lisle will be with you tomorrow. Merry Christmas!

Harry Brook speaks

Yeah I’m feeling good at the minute; hopefully it continues. I’ve scored a lot of runs in certain areas and I kind of stick to that. I feel like I’ve been quick on my feet against spin which has helped. I don’t know how much seam I’ve faced – the majority of my batting has been against spin and I feel very confident against that out here.

I squat down a bit which I think helps me [read length], especially for that pick-up shot over midwicket. Staying low, trying to see the flight of the ball… Nauman Ali was actually quite hard to face on there, he was doing me in length a few times, I didn’t feel like I could get back to him. But Abrar, I felt like if he dropped it short it was easy pickings really.

[On getting low] I’ve tried to take bits of the best players in the world and put it in my game. I watched a lot of AB de Villiers and seen the way he plays spin; quite a bit of his technical side has gone into my game.

[On Ben Stokes’ run-out] I thought I was out. Thankfully I got my bat in before his foot… I don’t know whether to say thankfully or not!

“When did England last open the bowling with three spinners?” asks Colin Burgess. “Perhaps on an Adelaide sticky?”

Great question. I’d need to check to be sure, but I think it was Malcolm Hilton, Roy Tattersall and Jack Robertson at Kanpur on 13 January 1952.

By the standards of this series that was a relatively quiet day, yet there were still 368 runs scored. The highlight was another swaggering century from Harry Brook, who ignored his part in the run-out of his captain Ben Stokes to smack 111 from 150 balls.

Abrar Ahmed and Nauman Ali took four wickets apiece, and they will fancy their chances of bowling Pakistan to victory in the fourth innings. All will be revealed in the next day or two.


Close of play

9th over: Pakistan 21-0 (Shafique 14, Masood 3) For the first time in the series, we’ve had the full allocation of overs. Leach bowls the last, and Shafique drags the penultimate delivery round the corner for four. A no-ball – the cardinal sin! – means Pakistan will be 29 runs behind when they resume in the morning.

8th over: Pakistan 16-0 (Shafique 10, Masood 3) Shafique works Rehan Ahmed round the corner for a couple to move into double figures, then gets three leg byes after being hit outside leg stump by a googly.

The last ball is a grubber that Masood defends off the back foot. This pitch is a bit odd, both unhelpful to the bowlers and untrustworthy to the batsmen.

7th over: Pakistan 11-0 (Shafique 8, Masood 3) Shafique works a single off Leach, which allows England to crowd the left-handed Masood: slip, leg slip, silly point, short midwicket. He looks solid in defence, though, and the rest of the over passes without incident.

6th over: Pakistan 10-0 (Shafique 7, Masood 3) Rehan Ahmed replaces Root, a clever move with Pakistan essentially batting for the close. Shan Masood chases a wider delivery and is beaten on the cut, and Rehan starts with a maiden. Three overs to go.

“Re: the looming middle-order issue. Anyone got thoughts on Stokes opening?” says David Brook. “I don’t think he would say no.”

I reckon even he might think that’s going too far, especially as his mind is so active when he’s in the field. Personally I think the top three, certainly the top two, need to be seen as a separate department: no promoting Bairstow/Brook/Stokes, no funky stuff. But I appreciate that is a very old-fashioned (ie, 2021) attitude.


5th over: Pakistan 10-0 (Shafique 7, Masood 3) Leach bits Shafique with a ripper that drifts in and then bursts past the outside edge. Some spinners hate bowling with the new ball but Leach looks like he enjoys it, and he’s started well here: his figures are 3-2-1-0.

4th over: Pakistan 9-0 (Shafique 7, Masood 2) I’ll be honest, not much is happening. Shafique skips down to lift Root over midwicket for the first boundary of the innings; that’s about it. I’d be very tempted to bring on Rehan Ahmed at Root’s end.

3rd over: Pakistan 3-0 (Shafique 2, Masood 1) Leach to Masood, with a slip and leg slip. There’s a bit of turn, though nothing that should unnerve the batters. Masood is able to play out a maiden without alarm. The early signs are that Pakistan are going to bat for the close and worry about run-scoring the morn.

2nd over: Pakistan 3-0 (Shafique 2, Masood 1) For the second time in his Test career, Joe Root takes the new ball. (The first was during that farce at Ahmedabad last year.) He goes around the wicket to the right-handed Shafique, who flicks crisply through midwicket for two.

“This is going to be another four-dayer, isn’t it?” says John Starbuck. “Got your Christmas planned out yet?”

The World Cup and this series have been so consuming that I haven’t even thought about Christmas. Happily, I’m off after today so I’m treating it as a two-day Test. (And yes, yes it is going to be another four-dayer; might even finish tomorrow, though I doubt it.)


1st over: Pakistan 0-0 (Shafique 0, Masood 0) Shafique survives a big LBW appeal off the fourth ball when he pushes around his front pad at Leach. It was close but didn’t straighten quite enough and would have missed leg stump. A good start from Leach, a maiden.

Here we go. Nine overs remaining, light permitting, and Jack Leach has the new ball.

Meanwhile, at the Gabbatoir

“Cricket does indeed have a range of challenges and possibilities,” writes Michael, “but it also has the phenomenon of ‘flat-track bullies’ (a phrase that is hijacked by other sports).”

That’s a good thing though, right? Sorts the great from the good, etc.

WICKET! England 354 all out (Robinson b Abrar 29)

Abrarcadabra. Pakistan take the new ball, and Abrar picks up the last wicket inside four deliveries. The ball after being reverse swept for four, he skids a lovely delivery straight through Ollie Robinson. Abrar finishes with four for 150, Robinson goes for a breezy 20-ball 29, and England have a lead of 50.

There are nine overs remaining tonight.

80th over: England 349-9 (Robinson 25, Leach 8) Robinson moves to 25 from 18 balls by reverse-sweeping Nauman delicately for four. England have now scored more than 200 runs since losing their fifth wicket, a terrific effort and not the first time the lower order has fought back since Baz and Ben took over.

“Mystery spinner v a tailender who has no idea what’s going on?” says James Walsh. “Stokes might not be a fan, but I could watch this for hours.”

I don’t know whether Warnie counts as a mystery spinner or just a freakish genius, but this never gets old.

79th over: England 341-9 (Robinson 18, Leach 7) Abrar beats Robinson with a nice googly that kicks off the pitch. Robinson’s response is to get down on one knee and heave a sweep for four, as if on auto-pilot.

Later in the over Leach edges short of slip, not once but twice. He’s had enough of that orthodox endeavour, so he mows a reverse sweep for four.

“If The Darkness is to be mentioned,” says Ian Copestake, “allow me to prompt your other reader to Justin Hawkins Rides Again on YouTube. Is very winning and informative on music, fame and rock.”

That’s not the one with the BBC commentary from 1992 dubbed over the top is it?

79th over: England 330-9 (Robinson 13, Leach 1) Robinson paddles Nauman round the corner for a couple. He’s been a bit of a disappointment as a Test batter, with his average only just in double figures, though his bowling has more than made up for it.

78th over: England 327-9 (Robinson 10, Leach 1) Leach bowled Abrar with a jaffa this time last night, and Abrar almost pays him back with a lovely delivery that misses the off stump by this much. The next two deliveries beat the outside edge as well. I’ve no idea how Leach survived that over, not a solitary scooby.

“I’m not sure Phil Russell did take his idea to its logical conclusion,” says Brad McMillan. “Had he done so, instead of the baseball analogy, he’d have gone down the NFL route and suggested completely different batting and fielding units.

“I expect you to (rightly) despise the idea, but its thrown up an interesting question in my mind: in NFL parlance the two units would be known as ‘offence’ and ‘defence’, so which of these would batting and fielding be?”

For this England team they’d probably be ‘offence 1’ and ‘offence 2’. Or maybe ‘shock’ and ‘awe’.

77th over: England 326-9 (Robinson 9, Leach 1) This has turned out quite well for England, who should have an hour or so at the Pakistan openers tonight.

WICKET! England 324-9 (Foakes c Shafique b Nauman 64)

Ben Foakes charges the new bowler Nauman Ali and fetches the ball high towards mid-on, where Shafique runs round to take a comfortable catch. That was a good innings from Foakes, which helped turn a big deficit into a slender lead.

Back to the earlier subject of Christmas songs. ““What about the Darkness hit,” says Mike Speke. “Christmas Time (Don’t let the Wickets fall) or something like that.”


76th over: England 324-8 (Foakes 64, Robinson 8) Ollie Robinson slogs two of his first three balls for four, and why not.

“I met Brian Close once,” says Ian Copestake, “though when I say ‘met’ I mean I watched on as a fellow lackey security guard at Headingley asked him for his ID before he would let him in the members’ stand. You should have seen the great man’s face!”

I bet the words coming out of his face were interesting. In fact, I hear he unwittingly coined a portmanteau for this afternoon’s partnership between Ben Foakes and Harry Brook.


WICKET! England 316-8 (Wood c Shafique b Abrar 35)

This is a terrific catch. Wood tried to chip Abrar over midwicket, where Abdullah Shafique leapt to take a nonchalant one-handed catch. Wood goes for a perky – NOT THE KLAXON, PLEASE – 35 from 41 balls.

75th over: England 316-7 (Foakes 64, Wood 35) Wood flicks a full toss from Wasim behind square for four, which also brings up a jaunty fifty partnership from only 57 balls. Pakistan are going through the motions.

“I can’t help feeling Stokes is not a fan of watching tail-enders from either side bat,” says Phil Russell. “Very much a hit-out-or-get-out approach so we can move the game on, and if there is a first innings deficit, well that’s what the second innings is for.

“Taking that to its logical conclusion, I wonder how long we have to wait until the introduction of a ‘designated batter’ role where each team nominates a player to drop out of the batting line up in place of a specialist batter who doesn’t field?

“Benefits would include Foakes not needing to worry about his place and Jimmy going on for even longer. Just a shame it will happen too late for Inzamam.”

Please don’t give the ICC ideas.

74th over: England 308-7 (Foakes 61, Wood 30) Abrar is mowed over midwicket for four by Wood, whose breezy innings has taken England into the lead. This is a cracking recovery from 145 for five.

“Thanks for posting the Waqar clip a few overs back,” says Bernard Hughes, “which as well as reminding us of his genius, was a less enjoyable reminder of how terrible the BBC TV commentary was in those days…”

Ah, I had it on silent. Please don’t tell me somebody has dubbed Dennis Pennis over it again?

(Actually, I’ve just listened to it now – it’s really good! That’s Jack Bannister and Richie Benaud! Richie’s emphasis on ‘Well bowled’ when Waqar cleans up Graeme Hick is great, IMO.)

73rd over: England 300-7 (Foakes 60, Wood 23) It’s a fairly quiet period, though these things are relative – Wood and Foakes are still scoring at four and a half per over. Foakes drives Wasim pleasantly down the ground for four to bring up the 300. He has a terrific record in Asia, with an average of 46 from seven Tests – and that includes three games on rancid turners in India last year.

“Rehan made one more run than Brian Close managed on youthful debut,” writes Tim Sanders. “Credit to both players though, in that both were caught going unselfishly for quick runs. Back in 1949, it was because the match and series situation demanded it; in 2022 it’s more a matter of general policy.”

The memory on you!


72nd over: England 294-7 (Foakes 55, Wood 22) Abrar Ahmed replaces Nauman Ali, who has very modern figures of 27-1-113-3. He beats Foakes with a beautiful delivery that dips and then skids past the outside edge.

“That you (and I) can hedge an appreciation of a giant new talent like Harry Brook with a version of ‘Can he do it on a wet night at Stoke?’ and it being an entirely reasonable position to take, underlines Test cricket’s range of possibilities,” says Gary Naylor. “Other sports have specialists for certain disciplines (eg track cyclists, classics riders and Grands Tours contenders) but is cricket the only one that sets so many challenges to its would-be greats? I think so.”

That’s a terrific point. Tennis has different surfaces but I’m a casual fan at best so I don’t know how the challenges compare to cricket. I suppose cricket has different surfaces and formats, which is relevant just to Tests because there will be times when Brook has to jump from white-ball to red-ball and vice versa. Not that it makes a huge difference to his approach.

71st over: England 292-7 (Foakes 54, Wood 21) Wood digs out an inswinging yorker from Mohammad Wasim, then pulls to deep midwicket for a single. Another for Foakes means England are 12 runs behind.

“A week out from Christmas, Rob, and England have a new batting superstar and are playing a brand of Test cricket from the future,” says Simon McMahon. “And it’s the football World Cup final this afternoon. Thank God, or whoever, for sport, eh? Especially in the bleak midwinter. What a (sleigh) ride. Merry Christmas everyone!”

Yeah, merry Christmas.

70th over: England 290-7 (Foakes 53, Wood 20) After a couple of games of bat-first dominance, it looks like England are going to have another interesting fourth-innings runchase. I’d make Pakistan slight favourites, though I thought England would lose most of their games last summer at one stage or another.

Wood moves into double figures with a slog-swept boundary off Nauman. He’s a very handy lower-order hitter, with a Test average of 16 and a strike rate in the high sixties, and he carts another slog sweep to the fence later in the over. A pair of twos take him into the twenties. His unbeaten 36 in the first innings at Multan ultimately won the game for England, and these could have a similar impact.

“Worth pointing out that this Pakistani attack is not exactly overladen with talent and Babar Azam has not been very proactive,” says Rob Lewis. “Apart from two overs, only three bowlers have been used in this innings, and for all the fanfare, the one who has bowled most, Abrar, is still only in his second Test. Still, Brook has been magnificent in this series.”

Yes, fair points. Pakistan are missing some extremely good bowlers, but then you can only score runs against what’s in front of yo- CAN YOU PLEASE TURN THAT BLOODY KLAXON OFF.

69th over: England 278-7 (Foakes 53, Wood 8) Mohammad Wasim is bowling full and straight, trying to maximise any reverse swing. It’s moving a little bit, around 3.4 on the Waqarometer (this is 10.0), and there’s just one run from the over.

“Just wondering,” says Geoff Savage, “might a not quite full-time bowler like Salman (or Root, even) best be described as pro-rata?”

Doesn’t that refer to the salary rather than the person? Does that even matter in a post-Bazball world?

68th over: England 276-7 (Foakes 53, Wood 7) Nine runs, none in boundaries, from a slightly scruffy over by Nauman that includes a no-ball. That’s the cardinal sin for a spinner.


67th over: England 268-7 (Foakes 51, Wood 1) Foakes reaches his half-century with a single off Mohammad Wasim. I was going to describe it as ‘unobtrusive’ but then I started to hear the QI klaxon in my head; we need something like that for when cricket writers use such cliches. Still, it’s been a fine, unobtrusive innings: 100 balls, 5x4.

Wasim then produces a searing yorker to Wood, who just manages to get an inside-edge on it. He’s getting a fair bit of reverse swing now, and Wood survives a big LBW appeal later in the over. Babar decides to use Pakistan’s last review. I say ‘use’, he’s spunked it away – the ball was missing leg stump.

“Not to get carried away by the Harry Brook hype machine,” says Saurya Chakraborty, “but would you say he is nailed on for a knighthood by 2035?”

What took them so long?


66th over: England 265-7 (Foakes 49, Wood 0) A wicket maiden for Nauman.

“I see that Harry Brook’s middle name is Cherrington,” says Kim Thonger. “On the strength of that century is he now a Ripe Cherrington?”

Arf. I wonder if any commentator will be brave enough to give him the ‘Brian Charles Lara’ treatment.

WICKET! England 265-7 (Rehan c Shakeel b Nauman 1)

Well, that was interesting. Rehan Ahmed charged Nauman and heaved the ball towards midwicket, where Saud Shakeel took a good two-handed catch above his head. A soft dismissal, but it’s all part of the education. And if you want to take the positives, well, at least he was positive.


65th over: England 265-6 (Foakes 49, Rehan 1) The new batter is Rehan Ahmed, who on paper is a very useful No8. This is only his fourth first-class match, and he’s already made a hundred. He gets off the mark by whipping his first ball extravagantly off middle stump for a single.

“Brook has been fantastic, but in a funny way, his progress has created a good headache for England,” says Tom Van der Gucht. “When Bairstow returns, we’ll have a glut of middle order attractive strokemakers. It’s like an extra quality piece of jigsaw to try and make fit, possibly at the expense of Foakes.

“The development of Duckett as potentially the quick scoring but reliable opener the management have been hoping Crawley would become actually fits an empty piece of the puzzle we’ve been searching for.”

I like Duckett but, at the risk of sounding like the grinch that stole Bazball, I would definitely reserve judgement until he has played on some livelier pitches against quality new-ball bowlers.

Something strange happened after the Brook dismissal. He got halfway off the field, then turned and tried to review. It was too late, but it didn’t matter anyway – it wasn’t bouncing over the stumps, not on this pitch.

WICKET! England 262-6 (Brook LBW b Wasim 111)

A change of pace and a change of fortune for Pakistan. Mohammad Wasim strikes with his second ball, trapping Harry Brook LBW with a fine delivery that nips back to hit the back leg. Brook didn’t even discuss a review with Ben Duckett. It’s Wasim’s first Test wicket, and Brook walks off after another quite outstanding innings: 111 from 150 balls, 8x4, 3x6.

64th over: England 261-5 (Brook 111, Foakes 46) Nauman has decided to try to bore Brook out by bowling into the filth outside leg stump. “Accept the challenge – it’s good for you,” said Sir Alex Ferguson once, and I’m sure Brook would agree. He’s not just going to sit there and kick it away. After having a look at a couple of deliveries, he runs down the track to drive for a single.

“Stokes’s dismissal merely confirms my view that he doesn’t have it at this level,” says Paul Griffin. “Also, Messi is crap.”

Wait till you see my statistical evisceration of Don Bradman. The useless plank only averaged 33.87 when Australia lost fielding first!

63rd over: England 258-5 (Brook 110, Foakes 45) One run from Abrar’s over. England are playing in Pakistan, and the team in the field look like they are waiting for a wicket rather than really trying to take one. Talk about a role reversal.

“Very pleased to hear from Guy Hornsby that it’s no longer grim in Sale, although as I write it’s just started gently snowing in Dorridge as young Brook brings up yet another century,” writes Brian Withington. “On the subject of stars, can we expect you to dash from the Karachi OBO to Qatar MBM this afternoon, after your stalwart turn in the 3rd/4th place play-off yesterday?”

Thankfully not. Scott Murray, the greatest liveblogger who ever lived – I suspect he’d detest that description, which is why I plan to use it every time I mention him from now on – is doing the World Cup final. I’m ready to sleep for a week.

62nd over: England 256-5 (Brook 108, Foakes 44) The lads are back out on the field. Foakes edges Nauman’s second ball past slip for a couple. Every little helps, and England – who were 159 behind when these two came together – now trail by just 48.

“It’s easy to forget,” says Henri Du Perier, “that Brook could probably have got another century in the second innings of the first Test but he was busy going for quick runs to set up a declaration.”

Very good point. I’m struggling to recall a comparable performance, especially when you consider that his strike rate in the series is 94.51. Only Ben Stokes, Virender Sehwag and Adam Gilchrist have scored 400+runs in a Test series at a higher strike-rate.


There was a nice moment when Brook walked up the stairs and into the England dressing-room. Stokes was waiting to embrace him, and they immediately started laughing about the mix-up that led to Stokes’s runout. I want to work for Ben Stokes.

Statgasm department

Only two England batters have ever scored more runs in a three-Test series than Harry Brook. Graham Gooch monstered a world-record 752 against India in 1990, and Len Hutton hit 480 against West Indies in 1939. (We should also mention Wally Hammond, who smashed 563 in a two-Test series against New Zealand in 1932-33.) Even so, Brook’s in the best possible company.

“Greetings from a (relatively) balmy Nice,” says Robert Wilson. “ Given that English cricket doesn’t lack for batters who pull off a bit of early-career derring-do in India and Pakistan before reality kicks and ruins all our boyish dreams, how good do you think Brook actually is? I mean good grief, this is getting ridiculous. I’m actually a little scared. I want to believe, I so much want to give my heart away again.

“Am I going to end up watching the raindrops drip down my windows, tearfully thinking of entropy? Tell me, you know I rely on you for everything.”

He’ll be a white-ball superstar. Lock up your red-ball heart until he’s cracked Australia.

61st over: England 254-5 (Brook 108, Foakes 42) At last, a bowling change. Agha Salman, who is somewhere between a full-time and part-time offspinner, comes into the attack on the stroke of tea. Nothing much happens.

That’s the end of an extremely good session for England – 114 runs, one wicket - and particularly the phenomenal Harry Brook, who compartmentalised his part in the run-out of Ben Stokes to make another majestic century.

Babar Azam allowed the game to drift, bowling Abrar and Nauman to no great effect and with no great purpose. A wicket would change everything, we know that from watching Pakistan over the last forever, but for now England are in control.

60th over: England 249-5 (Brook 105, Foakes 40) Brook tries to reverse sweep a low full toss from Nauman and under-edges the ball between his legs for three. An eagle-eyed Mike Atherton spots that the ball would have hit the off stump but for a slight deflection off Brook’s back calf.

Another century for Harry Brook!

59th over: England 245-5 (Brook 102, Foakes 39) Brook reaches another marvellous century with a gorgeous stroke. He skids back in his crease to drive Abrar through extra cover off the back foot and away for four. His celebration is pretty low-key – another day, another Test century – but he gets a standing ovation from the England balcony.

This is quite spectacular. Before this tour Brook had played one Test, and now he has jauntily scored a century in every match of the series. This one came from 133 balls, with eight fours and three sixes.


58th over: England 239-5 (Brook 97, Foakes 38) Rizwan appeals for a leg-side catch offered by Foakes off Nauman. Joel Wilson raises his arms, but only to signal a wide. There was nothing on UltraEdge.

“Harry Brook eh??” says Phil Harrison. “I’ve decided he’s the culmination of the last two decades of English red-ball and white-ball batting. He’s Root x Pietersen x Buttler. Some player.”

No pressure. I’d like to see him against world-class fast bowling before we officially anoint him. But he does seem to have it, whatever it is, in industrial quantities.

57th over: England 235-5 (Brook 96, Foakes 36) Brook thumps Abrar through extra cover for two, which makes him England’s highest runscorer in a series in Pakistan. His performance has been both remarkable and not particularly surprising.

56th over: England 229-5 (Brook 91, Foakes 35) Brook charges Nauman and slices a chip shot over mid-off for a couple. It wasn’t where he intended but it cleared the fielder pretty comfortably, and the two runs take him into the nerveless nineties. He. Is. Very. Good.

Foakes has an escape later in the over, bat-padding Nauman through the vacant silly point area.

55th over: England 226-5 (Brook 88, Foakes 35) Foakes almost offers a return catch to Abrar, with a hard-handed leading edge dropping just short. A maiden.

54th over: England 226-5 (Brook 88, Foakes 35) Nauman moves over the wicket to Brook, who launches into a reverse slog-sweep first ball. He doesn’t connect properly and under-edges it wide of Rizwan for a single, the first of four from the over.

53rd over: England 222-5 (Brook 86, Foakes 33) The Stokes run-out doesn’t seem to have affected Brook one iota. This generation are just different, aren’t they, less worried about perception or appearance and more concerned with hitting the next ball for four.

Abrar beats Foakes with a good one that turns pretty sharply. The pitch hasn’t deteriorated yet, but the odd ball is misbehaving.

52nd over: England 219-5 (Brook 83, Foakes 33) Another terrific bit of placement from Foakes, who skips down the track to flick Nauman between midwicket and mid-on for four. Foakes has quietly – of course he’s done it quietly – batted well under Ben Stokes: 273 runs at an average of 46.

“Morning Rob, from a finally unfrozen Sale,” says Guy Hornsby. “This is gripping, brilliant Test cricket. I’m not going to praise the batters because... Well you know how that goes. But this team is showing it’s not always just fifth gear. This partnership is so crucial, because we could be 25 more or 100 more when the next wicket falls. So finely in the balance. Anyway, we all know the greatest Christmas song is Jona Lewie.”

No no no nono nononononono.

51st over: England 214-5 (Brook 82, Foakes 29) Brook swipes Abrar straight back over his head for a majestic six. He crunches an off-drive later in the over – “almost a hockey shot,” says David Gower – and Faheem Ashraf does well to save two runs at long-off.

50th over: England 205-5 (Brook 73, Foakes 29) Brook cuts Nauman to the cover sweeper for a single. He’s 28 runs away from a pretty remarkable achievement: a century in each Test of his first overseas series. Saying that, Pakistan has become his second home.

Nauman produces a beauty to Foakes later in the over, but the outside edge falls well short of slip. This pitch is made of soil and mogadon.

49th over: England 202-5 (Brook 71, Foakes 28) Foakes chips Abrar handsomely over midwicket for four to bring up the fifty partnership. After a slow start, he is playing fluently: 1 from the first 18 balls, 27 from the next 32. Even Bazball has gears, occasionally.


48th over: England 194-5 (Brook 70, Foakes 21)

47th over: England 192-5 (Brook 68, Foakes 21) Foakes moves into the twenties with a stylish boundary, a wristy clip through midwicket off Abrar. This is a useful partnership – 47 from 14.1 overs at the admittedly miserable scoring rate of 3.3 per over.

46th over: England 188-5 (Brook 68, Foakes 17) Thanks Taha, morning everyone. Nauman continues to Brook, who charges the first ball but can’t beat Babar at cover. He and Foakes take a single apiece later in the over.

45th over: England 186-5 (Brook 67, Foakes 16) That’s drinks and enough from me. Rob Smyth will take you through to stumps.

44th over: England 186-5 (Foakes 16, Brook 67) Nauman twirls away and Brook shows off his impressive forward defence.

43rd over: England 183-5 (Foakes 14, Brook 66) Brook swats away Abrar again off the back foot for four – he’s so good at that particular shot.

42nd over: England 177-5 (Brook 61, Foakes 13) Brooks and Foakes tap it about as Nauman returns to the attack.

Simon McMahon messages in: “If it’s song requests your after, how about the greatest Christmas song ever, Keeping the Dream Alive by Freiheit? Only a week to go now, and the lyric seems strangely appropriate for Test cricket today - ‘the hopes we had were much to high, way out of reach but we have to try, no need to hide, no need to run, ‘cause all the answers come one by one, the game will never be over, because we’re keeping the dream alive’.”

Can’t say I’m familiar with this tune, but it’s blasting out of my speakers as I type.

41st over: England 171-5 (Foakes 9, Brook 59) Wasim continues to run in, searching for that tailing yorker to rattle the stumps or bring about an lbw. Brook soaks in one in-ducker and plays the most sublime straight drive for four. A full toss follows and Brook drives through the covers for another boundary.

40th over: England 163-5 (Brook 51, Foakes 9)

It’s nowhere near the bat and the ball is projected to miss the stumps on lbw, too. Carry on.

Foakes nabs another boundary, this time off Abrar. But then the finger goes up! It’s for a catch at short leg, and Foakes has gone upstairs for a review…

39th over: England 158-5 (Brook 50, Foakes 5) Foakes finally gets a wide one from Wasim, and he obliges with a dab to the third-man boundary for four.

Fifty for Harry Brook!

38th over: England 154-5 (Foakes 1, Brook 50) Brook is quick on the pull once again to take four off Abrar. And then a moment of worry for the batter, with a top-edge sweep sending the ball high… but the man at deep backward square leg can’t get to it in time. And that’s a half-century, too, in what has been a sublime series for England’s newest batting star.

37th over: England 148-5 (Brook 44, Foakes 1) Wasim has tightened things up at his end, too.

36th over: England 147-5 (Brook 43, Foakes 1) Having missed out on selection for the second Test, Foakes is having to learn about Abrar’s various tricks in this one. He’s understandably watchful, dotting out while Brook picks up a single.

35th over: England 146-5 (Brook 42, Foakes 1) Wasim is starting to find his line, getting the ball to tail in late and test the defence of Foakes.

34th over: England 146-5 (Foakes 1, Brook 42) Oh, this game is getting quite exciting now.

33rd over: England 145-5 (Foakes 0, Brook 42) Foakes is out in the middle for his first innings of the series. And he’s got some work to do.

WICKET! Stokes run out Azhar/Wasim 26 (England 145-5)

Oh my days. Brook clips away Wasim for what looks to be a comfortable couple of runs. Except Stokes wants three and just keeps on going, despite Brook turning back. The throw comes in from Azhar Ali and Wasim obliges at the non-striker’s end with the easiest of run-outs. A bizarre mix-up and Pakistan are right in this.


32nd over: England 140-4 (Stokes 25, Brook 38) A tidy maiden to start the session.

Ben Stokes and Harry Brook are back out there. Looks like Abrar will kick things off.

Australia have won by six wickets at the Gabba inside two days. What a scorecard this is.

Lunch - England 140-4

31st over: England 140-4 (Brook 38, Stokes 25) Wasim is full and straight to Brook, resulting in an lbw shout – but it’s probably going down leg. Decent pace from Wasim, getting it above 140kph, but he’s struggled with his lines so far. Brook, with the third ball of the over, plays a stunning shot, opening up the off side with a small shuffle to leg, with his punch for four coming off the straightest of bats. And that’s lunch!

30th over: England 135-4 (Brook 33, Stokes 25) Stokes wallops a sweep for four off the third ball of the over. Nauman then goes too short and Stokes rocks back to punch through the off-side for another boundary. He’s looking good.

29th over: England 127-4 (Stokes 17, Brook 33) Wasim returns and Stokes shows his hand early, shimmying down the pitch – but he doesn’t get any bat on it. The England captain gets it right with the penultimate ball of the over, though, advancing to smash it for four through extra.

Abrar’s magical delivery to remove Pope:

28th over: England 122-4 (Stokes 12, Brook 33) They’re talking football and fish on comms right now, so things have calmed down a touch.

27th over: England 120-4 (Brook 32, Stokes 11) Stokes sweeps and the ball bounces up to strike Abdullah Shafique at short leg on the helmet. A brief pause in play then to make sure he’s all good – and it looks that way.

26th over: England 118-4 (Stokes 10, Brook 31) Stokes sees some air and sweeps Nauman hard for his first boundary.

25th over: England 110-4 (Brook 29, Stokes 4) Abrar shouts the house down with an lbw appeal against Stokes, but the ball looks as if it’s pitched outside leg. A quick, flat, straight one follows to Brook, who just about keeps it out.

24th over: England 108-4 (Stokes 3, Brook 28) Stokes and Brook exchange singles as Nauman continues.

23rd over: England 105-4 (Stokes 1, Brook 27) Stokes comes down the track to get off the mark with a single before Brook finishes the over with a straight six. As you do.

WICKET! Pope b Abrar 51 (England 98-4)

Oh, you are not playing that. Abrar unfurls a beaut, luring in the forward press before getting the ball to turn and rattle the stumps. A magical piece of bowling.

Fifty for Olie Pope!

22nd over: England 97-3 (Brook 20, Pope 51) Pope finishes Nauman’s over with a boundary to bring up his 11th Test fifty. Played.

Kim, who is trying to have it all, messages in: “To keep track of events here and at the Gabba I’ve resorted to holding a phone in each hand, enabling me to monitor both OBO feeds simultaneously. I feel rather like The Sundance Kid with a six shooter in each hand, holding off the lawmen besieging my last place of refuge. This is fine until my wife wakes up and demands her phone back. Then a difficult choice will have to be made, as she is unlikely to take no for an answer.”

Seems like Australia are about to sort this out for you. They need just twenty-something more to wrap things up at the Gabba.

21st over: England 89-3 (Pope 44, Brook 19) Abrar tries the front-of-hand delivery and it’s too far down the leg side – Brook sweeps away for four.

20th over: England 84-3 (Pope 43, Brook 15) Another tidy one from Nauman.

Tony writes in: “There’s been lots of talk of who to leave in the english team and who to leave out, mostly revolving around who keeps wicket and who is essentially a batsman.
I would suggest that perhaps the choice would be simpler if the off spinner and part time batsman Root were dropped!
Is one allowed to say things like that?”

Tony, Tony, Tony. It’s early in the morning and I don’t think you’ve had your coffee yet.

19th over: England 83-3 (Pope 42, Brook 15) Abrar goes full and fast out of the front of the hand to leave Brook in all sorts, and Babar goes up for a review. It’s going down the leg side, though, rather comfortably. Brook bounces back with the final ball of the over, rocking back for a leg-side smash to pick up four. He was so quick to get in position for that.

The two wickets that fell earlier:

18th over: England 77-3 (Brook 10, Pope 41) Babar’s back on the field as Nauman twirls away to concede just one. Time for drinks.

Brian writes in: “My expectations of proper, sedate Test cricket were being somewhat disturbed by the jaunty rate of England’s run scoring, but after the quick dismissals of Duckett and Root perhaps we can expect young Brook and Pope to undertake a patient rebuild and restore decorum to proceedings.”

I’m not sure the kids are going to keep quiet for long…

17th over: England 76-3 (Brook 9, Pope 41) Outrageous from Brook, who launches Abrar for a straight six, his backfoot lifted up for that little bit of extra flair. An LBW shout follows as Brook comes down the pitch a couple of balls later, but he’s way too far out of his crease for that to be a problem.

16th over: England 69-3 (Brook 2, Pope 41) Pope comes down the track to bunt the ball to mid-on and steal a single.

15th over: England 65-3 (Pope 38, Brook 1) Abrar gets another one to keep very low, and Pope does very well to flick it away for a couple.

14th over: England 60-3 (Pope 33, Brook 1) No hat-trick as Brook gets off strike immediately. A wonderful over from Nauman Ali has livened up proceedings.

Nauman on a hat-trick! Brook is out there to face it.

WICKET!!! Root c Salman b Nauman 0 (England 58-3)

Another one! Beautiful from Nauman as he tosses one up to get Root poking forward, and the outside edge is gobbled up at first slip. The umpires check if it’s carried – and it has, no dramas there. A first-baller for Root. What a moment!

WICKET! Duckett lbw Nauman 26 (England 58-2)

And that’s hitting middle of middle! It was umpire’s call on impact. Nauman, from over the wicket, got some sharp turn there to trap Duckett on the back foot. That’s come slightly out of nowhere for Pakistan.

Duckett reviews after Nauman has him lbw…

13th over: England (Duckett 26, Pope 32) Big from Duckett! He comes down the track and smashes Abrar for a straight six. Lovely, lovely shot. The left-hander dabs to the off-side for a single a couple of balls later, and Pope then collects a boundary with a beautiful clip through the leg side. England are cruising.

12th over: England 47-1 (Duckett 19, Pope 28) Pope and Duckett tick along comfortably against Nauman, with the latter bringing out his paddle sweep for a single.

11th over: England 42-1 (Duckett 17, Pope 25) Abrar is tweaking away, and looking threatening, that low bounce giving him something to work with.

Here’s some love for Adam Collins, a regular on these pages. A great call on Mitchell Starc’s 300th Test wicket.

10th over: England 38-1 (Pope 22, Duckett 16) The quicks aren’t having much fun so it’s spin from both ends as Nauman Ali gets a bowl. Duckett swats away to the leg side and gets two after a misfield from Abrar, who was ambitious in trying the one-handed pick-up.

9th over: England 33-1 (Pope 20, Duckett 13) Duckett gets his beloved sweep out to fetch a couple off Abrar.

8th over: England 30-1 (Pope 19, Duckett 11) Wasim is given the boot after two expensive overs, with Faheem Ashraf called into the attack to replace him. He brings a bit more control, conceding just a couple.

7th over: England 28-1 (Duckett 10, Pope 18) Abrar gets one to keep low, giving Pope a little fright.

“Morning Taha.” Morning, Brian.

"I must confess I was almost distracted by the mayhem available in Australia, but the lure of proper, sedate Test cricket in your reassuring company was too strong. I am sure messrs Pope, Duckett and co will dig in and try to eke things out until lunch …”

Thanks, Brian, you’ve made the right call.

6th over: England 26-1 (Pope 17, Duckett 9) On the pads from Wasim, and Pope flicks through the leg-side for four. The debutant is too straight again with his following delivery, and Pope picks up two with another whip. Duckett finishes the over with a clip of his own behind square for four.

5th over: England 15-1 (Pope 10, Duckett 5) Abrar has the ball, and it’s Mohammad Rizwan who is calling the shots out there for Pakistan – Babar Azam is feeling unwell, says Nasser on comms. Maiden for the leggie.

4th over: England 15-1 (Duckett 5, Pope 10) Pope throws his hands out there at a wide one and, while not in total control, finds four over the cordon. We’re up and running on day two.

Ollie Pope and Ben Duckett are out there, and Mohammad Wasim has the ball.

Now, look, I don’t want people to leave me here. But there’s some madness going on at the Gabba.

Scott Boland – that Test average is still absolutely ridiculous.

This is just all kinds of lovely.


Morning, folks! The opening day in Karachi was a historic one, all thanks to a teenage kid with some very useful tricks. Rehan Ahmed became England’s youngest men’s Test cricketer and, after a nervy start, found his rhythm on a flat one to take two impressive wickets. The first, that of Saud Shakeel, was a lovely set-up: the googly followed by a leg-spinner that resulted in a terrific bat-pad catch by Ollie Pope. The second was a gorgeous wrong’un, beating the forward press of Faheem Ashraf to have the left-hander lbw. An 18-year-old leggie in this madly fun Test side – you can’t help but get a bit excited.

Rehan Ahmed helped England bowl out Pakistan for 304, and Zak Crawley fell for a duck to the twirly delights of Abrar Ahmed, leaving Stokes’ men on 7-1.

As ever, feel free to slide into my DMs with any thoughts/queries/song requests. I’ll be back shortly.

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