Pakistan vs England: Ben Duckett and Harry Brook half-centuries put tourists in control on day two
n early morning collapse from Pakistan was the defining feature of a day where England took control of the second Test and the series.
England finished day two on 202 for 5 and with a lead of 281 thanks to half-centuries from Ben Duckett and Harry Brook. It was a scenario of Pakistan’s own doing as a feeble display with the bat saw them lose their final eight wickets for 60 runs and concede a significant first innings deficit of 79. For the home side, their sole shining light of the day was once again debutant Abrar Ahmed who completed his ten-wicket haul for the match.
Despite how the day would end, the morning had started well for Pakistan, as captain Babar Azam and Saud Shakeel batted assuredly to add another 41 to their overnight total. Shakeel in particular batting fluently to bring up his second Test half-century in as many games.
But the introduction of Ollie Robinson to the attack for the first time would prove to be the catalyst of the day. Two balls into his spell, Robinson produced a fantastic delivery that moved viciously into the right-handed Babar and clattered into middle-and-off stumps.
A period of calm followed, but Pakistan would go nowhere, with new batter Mohammad Rizwan taking almost an hour to score his first run. And as England turned the screw, Shakeel broke – caught at mid-on to give Jack Leach his 100th Test wicket and open the floodgates for England.
With both Babar and Shakeel gone, Pakistan crumbled as 165 for five became 169 for eight. First Leach clean bowled Rizwan with a beauty before Mohammad Nawaz chipped tamely to Robinson at mid-off to give Leach his fourth of the innings.
Joe Root and Mark Wood shared the final four wickets between them. Both of Root’s wickets came in the same over as Agha Salman chipped his very first ball of the day, the gentlest of deliveries, to Ben Stokes at short-midwicket for the gentlest of catches. Four balls later and Mohammad Ali edged to Zak Crawley at slip as Pakistan were staring down the barrel.
Wood clean bowled tailender Zahid Mahmood for England’s ninth wicket and whilst the final pair of Faheem Ashraf and Abrar Ahmed would show some resistance, their last ditch partnership of 23 was not enough to save Pakistan from a disastrous morning session where they relinquished control of the match and the series.
By this England team’s standards, the afternoon was a relatively quiet affair as the session passed with a run-rate below four an over with three wickets falling. But it was not without some BazBall flavouring sprinkled over it as England moved Will Jacks, who has never batted above four in first-class cricket, to No3 in place of Ollie Pope to give the stand-in wicketkeeper some rest.
Nevertheless, Jacks still came to the crease sooner than England would have liked, as Crawley ran himself out after setting off on a non-existent single to Abrar at mid-on. Pakistan’s debutant once again proved he can do no wrong as he swooped on the ball one-handed before executing an underarm direct hit.
For those keeping score at home, Abrar has over ten wickets for the match, a run-out and was the only Pakistan batter not to be dismissed. And he would claim his first of the second innings shortly after as Jacks played and missed at a sweep to depart for four and leave England wobbling at 26 for two.
Joe Root and Duckett steadied the ship, adding 50 together, before Root also fell to Abrar thanks to a stunning diving catch from Abdullah Shafique at short-leg.
Pakistan were threatening to reel themselves back into the game, but another sweeping masterclass from Duckett and a half-century from Harry Brook pressed England further and further ahead of the game. Duckett scored 79 before he was bowled by a short-ball from Abrar that stayed impossibly low.
Pope would be England’s second run-out of the innings as he attempted to drop and run to Mohammad Nawaz only to be, correctly, sent back by Brook – yet was caught well short of his ground.
But in the theme of the day, just as England wobbled, so too would they regain composure. Brook following in Duckett’s footsteps as he too brought up a half-century and guided England to 202 for five alongside his skipper Stokes, who finished on 16, to the close.
England’s lead is 281, a figure that on a pitch offering ample assistance to the spinners could already be enough. Whilst victory may not arrive tomorrow, it would take an almighty effort from Pakistan to avoid defeat from here.