By Rex Clementine
Rarely has the ball risen above the waist level or even so rarely the odd one has turned, but England’s aggressive cricket has presented them with a slight chance to win the first Test match against Pakistan in Rawalpindi.
Despite little assistance for the bowlers, England were imaginative, kept attacking and made inroads and if they keep persevering, this could be a remarkable Test match win on their return to Pakistan after a decade and half.
Pakistan finished day three on 499 for seven and England have a lead of 158. If their bowlers knock off Pakistan’s tail in the morning session and then if they bat for two sessions, they should have 400 runs on the board and that could set up an interesting Test match on the final day.
Bad light has been a problem though. We have lost more than 30 overs in the first three days due to bad light and it could be the case moving forward. Losing 30 overs is equal to losing a session and although play has been resuming 15 minutes early to catch up for lost time, you ask the question why can’t play begin half an hour early?
Pakistan resumed with their overnight score of 181 for no loss and both openers Imam-ul-Haq and Abdullah Shafique posted hundreds. England bowling at that point looked toothless and the only way a dismissal looked to be coming was through a run out.
Loud communication and not ball watching are key aspects of running between the wickets but in the sub-continent not much attention has been paid for this vital aspect and as a result you see some embarrassing run outs at the highest level.
Perseverance and hard work paid off for England. Pakistan were still in control as no wickets fell in the afternoon session and captain Babar Azam reached his eighth hundred and the first against England.
Knee injury to Liam Livingstone means he hasn’t bowled in this game and Will Jacks who bowls part-time off-spin at Surrey was given a go. Cricket is a funny game and it turned out to be that Jacks was England’s most successful bowler having claimed three wickets. And what’s more, he’s on debut as well. Among his victims were the Pakistani captain, who had been a thorn in the flesh for many attacks in the world.
England went onto take four wickets in the final session to wrestle back the initiative. Exciting two days are on the cards. No harm in keeping early alarm to watch this contest.