Pakistan 357 for 7 (Shafiq 135*, Sohail 79, Keogh Three-83) lead Northamptonshire 259 (Rossington 90, Shadab 6-77) by 98 runs
After so little first-class cricket up to now 12 months, batting apply is what Pakistan are most in want of earlier than the opening Take a look at of their UK tour that begins on Friday. They have been handed an ideal probability on a golden second day in Northampton and Asad Shafiq took benefit of the situations – in addition to two dropped catches – to make his 20th first-class century and hand his facet a sizeable lead by the shut.
Shafiq has not solely the second-highest variety of Take a look at caps within the Pakistan squad however has performed extra first-class cricket than many of the touring social gathering in current months. By full distinction, earlier than final week’s match at Kent, Haris Sohail’s final home first-class match was all the best way again in 2014. The pair shared a stand of 136 for the third wicket to set the day up for their facet.
As preparation for the Take a look at matches to come back, this has been a real task for the vacationers and so they have been stored in test for two-thirds of the day. Northamptonshire took two early wickets and had Shafiq been held by Ricardo Vasconcelos within the gully on simply 13 – a sitter straight to the fielder at chest peak – Pakistan would have been 70 for Three and three of their prime order left with successive failures to start the tour.
However the partnership steadily constructed both facet of lunch. Sohail, regardless of – or maybe due to – his current expertise being nearly solely in opposition to the white ball, was initially the extra fluent of the pair. He started with a back-foot punch and a front-foot drive by further cowl earlier than skipping all the way down to Rob Keogh’s offspin to elevate one other boundary over mid-off. And after being struck a nasty blow on the neck ducking a Gareth Wade quick ball that did not rise up, he went by to fifty in 107 balls with seven fours.
A century loomed for Sohail however he produced a forefront to level making an attempt to flick Keogh over midwicket in opposition to the spin. Steven Criminal took a wise diving catch and will have taken Shafiq’s top-edged sweep diving in the wrong way subsequent ball. However the second probability Shafiq provided went down and he was left to dominate the day.
Shafiq made 363 runs at 30 in Pakistan’s Quaid-e-Azam Trophy final season with out a century however right here took his probability to achieve three figures. He slog-swept his second six off Keogh earlier than clipping the identical bowler to long-on to lift fifty in 98 balls. A steer behind level moved Pakistan into the lead shortly after tea earlier than a positive sweep introduced up his century, Pakistan’s first of the tour.
Later, simply when Northants had ambitions to restrict the deficit after three wickets with the second new ball, Shafiq took three boundaries in an over off Wade with a leg look, a fierce pull and an uppercut over cowl.
However the innings of the day belonged to Babar Azam, who breathed life right into a sleepy afternoon with a vivid, punchy 57. Azam already has seven ODI centuries and will develop into one in every of world batting’s stars. Three of his first 4 scoring strokes have been boundaries and as he minimize Luke Procter extensive of third man to lift fifty in simply 61 balls with six fours, the day started to float from Northants. 100 and forty three runs got here in 33 overs after tea because the lead approached three figures and Pakistan achieved the stable batting day they’d hoped for.
It didn’t seem that may essentially be the case as each opening batsman failed. Imam-ul-Haq, having scratched round for 60 deliveries for solely 11 runs, was crushed on the within edge by Keogh to be trapped lbw and Azhar Ali, probably the most skilled member of the Pakistan squad, fell lbw to Wade. The wicket was simply Wade’s second in first-class matches, having missed the vast majority of final season with a stress fracture of the again. He stated he loved the problem of bowling to a high-class batting line up but it surely was a problem efficiently met by Shafiq, Sohail and Babar.