Pakistanis 321 for 9 (Azhar 73, Zaman 71, Salahuddin 69*) v Leicestershire
If Pakistan are to win a Take a look at sequence in England for the primary time in additional than twenty years, it appears seemingly Azhar Ali might want to lead the way with the bat.
With out a few of these acquainted names of current occasions – the likes of Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq, who each averaged in extra of 40 as Pakistan drew right here in 2016 – it’ll certainly be incumbent upon Azhar to attempt to change their runs and supply a steadying affect to a considerably inexperienced batting order. Now aged 33, and with three centuries and three half-centuries from his earlier eight Checks, a lot is anticipated of him.
So it could have been encouraging to see him some type on the primary day of this two-day, non-first-class match in Leicester. After a modest begin to the tour – he has a top-score of 15 after 5 first-class innings – he appeared supremely snug right here in cruising to an untroubled 73. On a sluggish pitch the place run-scoring alternatives weren’t particularly plentiful, he noticed off the brand new ball patiently and put away something brief or over-pitched with out fuss. Citing his half-century from 83 balls along with his 10th 4 – a beautiful cowl drive that might have made Younis proud – he posted 121 for the primary wicket with Fakhar Zaman.
There’s a caveat. Leicestershire usually are not the strongest of the first-class counties – they completed backside of Division Two of the County Championship in 2017 with no single win – and this was, successfully, their 2nd XI. Solely two of these concerned right here – Lewis Hill and Ateeq Javid – performed of their final Championship match – a victory, to be truthful – and just one different member of this aspect (Dieter Klein) has featured within the Championship this season. If England have been offered with such opposition instantly forward of a Take a look at sequence abroad there can be moans and they’d not be solely unjustified.
That having been mentioned, there are some first rate gamers concerned. Klein, a left-arm seamer who features skiddy tempo from a fast arm, produced the ball of the day to account for Sami Aslam – pitching on line, it held its personal to beat the skin edge and take the off stump – and later ended Azhar’s innings. Making an attempt to chop, Azhar appeared aghast when a thick under-edge introduced the ball crashing into his personal off-stump.
Zak Chappell would have strengthened the attack considerably, however sustained a shoulder harm simply forward of the sport as he tried to assist his mom with some buying baggage. Which does moderately beg the query: what had she purchased and the way robust is she? It’s hoped he could also be match to return as early as mid-week.
Pakistan made a couple of modifications, too. Figuring out this sport as a uncommon alternative to permit a few of their squad a sport, they rested 5 seemingly members of their Take a look at aspect, with Mohammad Amir reserved for temporary bowls at intervals and earlier than play on a pitch on the aspect of the sq..
Usman Salahuddin took his likelihood to impress with a affected person half-century however Saad Ali let his frustration get the higher of him and was caught and bowled as he tried to make some progress against the spinners. Sarfraz Ahmed additionally fell in aggressive trend: making an attempt to repeat a slog-swept six from the earlier ball, he gifted a catch to mid-on.
Zaman was nearly as spectacular as Azhar in that opening stand. Having performed himself in with spectacular persistence – his first 75 deliveries realised a modest 34 runs – he then began to unfurl the attacking strokes that might be so acquainted to those that noticed him in England final 12 months. Richard Jones, a seam bowler of some expertise, was thrashed for six boundaries in an over and 7 in 10 balls at one stage as Zaman, who struck six of them, made a late – and possibly useless – bid for a Take a look at place. He finally fell to a catch to midwicket making an attempt to thrash one into the Rutland countryside.
Impatience price Faheem Ashraf, who was caught at cowl, and Mohammad Abbas, caught at mid-on, and left Leicestershire’s spinners, Javid and Aadil Ali – males with six first-class wickets between them – boasting figures of four for 70 from 20.5 overs. It was a delightful sufficient way to spend a stunning summer season’s day, however you do surprise if it is like getting ready for an Artic hike by nipping for an ice-cream.