sport news Abrar Ahmed seven-wicket haul puts Pakistan on top of England on first day of ... trends now
Another gripping day of Test cricket ended with Pakistan and England fighting for supremacy after a superb seven-wicket haul for debutant mystery spinner Abrar Ahmed was countered by the early removal of the Pakistan openers.
But Babar Azam hit back with a 57-ball half-century that would not have been out of place in Ben Stokes’s side and, at stumps on the first day of the second Test, Pakistan had advanced to 104 for two in reply to England’s 281. It was all to play for.
After all 10 England wickets fell to spin, with Abrar’s seven followed by three for fellow leggie Zahid Mahmood, Jimmy Anderson quickly chalked one up for the quicks, as Imam-ul-Haq – one of seven centurions at Rawalpindi – edged a back-foot force and was caught behind by Ollie Pope for a duck in the third over of the reply.
Abrar Ahmed took five wickets in the first session of Pakistan's second Test with England
Ben Stokes was one of the two more wickets taken by Ahmed after the break for lunch
Babar Azam played nicely for the hosts and they took control of the game on the first day
The fit-again Mark Wood was brought on to rough up Babar, who had been bounced out by Stokes on the fourth evening of the first Test, and topped 95mph in his first over.
But Pakistan’s captain survived comfortably enough, and the hosts had reached 51 before Jack Leach, who e left-arm spin had been given the second over, found Abdullah Shafique’s edge as he pushed forward. Umpire Marais Erasmus turned down the appeal, but England reviewed and DRS took care of the rest.
After that, Babar enjoyed solid support from Saud Shakeel, who helped him to stumps without further loss. On a day when smog did not delay the start as feared, there were almost 80 overs in all. We can expect a result from here.
Earlier, the England innings had been a predictable flurry of activity, as a smorgasbord of sweeps was punctuated by repeated incisions from the excellent Abrar.
Locals had expressed disbelief when Ahmed was left out at Rawalpindi, where Zahid Mahmood – the more senior of their leg-spinners – was preferred instead, and promptly carted all over the place.
Joe Root was one of the men dismissed by Pakistan's debutant leg-spinner in Rawalpindi
- Abrar Ahmed’s figures of seven for 114 were the second-best by a Pakistani bowling in his first Test innings. Off-spinner Mohammad Nazir took seven for 99 against New Zealand at Karachi in 1969-70.
- Not since England’s John Lever against India at Delhi in 1976-77 has a bowler