Sports

Pakistan strike early against England in Lord’s Test

Pakistan struck early with pacer Mohammad Abbas picking up the wicket of Mark Stoneman in the Test being played at Lord’s on Thursday.
Hasan Ali picked up the second wicket of the innings when he dismissed Joe Root. The third wicket also fell to Hasan Ali when David Malan was caught behind for six runs.
Pakistan’s Hasan Ali celebrates taking the wicket of England´s Dawid Malan as Alastair Cook (R) reacts. Photo: Reuters Earlier, England captain Joe Root won the toss and elected to bat in the against.
England gave a debut to 20-year-old Somerset off-spinner Dominic Bess and included fast bowler Mark Wood in their XI, with pace bowling all-rounder Chris Woakes missing out after being selected in a 12-man squad.
Pakistan made one change to the side that beat Test debutants Ireland by five wickets in Dublin last week, with Hasan Ali replacing left-arm paceman Rahat Ali for the first of this two-Test series.
This match saw England opener Alastair Cook equal Australia great Allan Border´s all-time record of playing in 153 consecutive Tests.
England were looking to bounce back after a difficult southern hemisphere tour where they failed to win in seven combined Tests in Australia and New Zealand.
England won the toss and will bat first against Pakistan in the first Test of a two-match series at Lord’s on Thursday.
Teams
PakistanAzhar Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Haris Sohail. Asad Shafiq, babar Azam, Sarfraz Ahmed (c), Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Abbas.
England
AN Cook, MD Stoneman, JE Root (c), DJ Malan, JM Bairstow, BA Stokes, JC Buttler, DM Bess, SCJ Broad, JM Anderson, MA Wood.
For seven members of the touring Pakistan side, today’s opening fixture will be the first time they have played a match at the ´home of cricket´. Mohammad Amir, wicket-keeper captain Sarfraz and batsmen Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq have all played at the London headquarters of Marylebone Cricket Club.
For at least seven members of the touring Pakistan side, today’s opening fixture will be the first time they have played a match at the ´home of cricket´. Mohammad Amir, wicket-keeper captain Sarfraz and batsmen Azhar Ali and Asad Shafiq have all played at the London headquarters of Marylebone Cricket Club.
Speaking to reporters at Lord´s on Wednesday, a confident Sarfraz said he wants the side´s quartet of senior players to help take the pressure off the rest of the team.
“Yes, the senior players in the team have to show responsibility,” he said. “We have to lead from the front, we have more responsibility to give a good platform so that the new players take it from there.”
Pakistan, seventh in the Test rankings, come into this game on the back of a five-wicket win over Test debutants in Ireland, where the conditions were similar to those they could face at Lord´s if confronted with a typical early-season English pitch offering seam movement and some overcast skies.
“As a team we have more confidence because that was our first big match,” said Sarfraz. “The way new players put up a good performance that helped us gain confidence.”
One of those new players was Test debutant Imam-ul-Haq. Some pundits attacked the 22-year-old left-hander´s inclusion in the tour squad on nepotism grounds given Imam is the nephew of Pakistan selection chief and former Test batsman Inzamam-ul-Haq.
But Imam has answered his critics with three fifties to date this tour, including a match-clinching 74 not out on the last day against Ireland that rescued Pakistan from the depths of 14 for three.
Sarfraz said it was important Pakistan treated the match like any other and did not play the likes of England stalwarts Alastair Cook, Stuart Broad and James Anderson on their reputations.
“They (England) have experienced players but I have told my players not to get worried about that,” he explained. “Take it as a domestic match, the way you have got into the team after performing well in domestic matches, play without fear and play your best game.
“The worse will be that we lose this match, but this is a young team, seven of our players will be playing at Lord´s for the first time, so that in itself an honour.
“If these youngsters do well here and gain confidence then it will be good for their future and for the Pakistan team.”
Sarfraz, a key member of the Pakistan side that drew 2-2 in a four-Test series in England two years ago, accepted the hosts would be tough to beat on their own soil.
But he also said there was an opportunity for Pakistan given England failed to win any of their seven most recent Tests, in Australia and New Zealand.
England’s troubles
A toothless bowling attack, brittle opening batting partnership and callow spin options leave England with much to prove in the home Tests against Pakistan.
Joe Root will lead out the side at Lord´s, desperate to put behind him a heavy Ashes defeat in Australia and a rare loss to New Zealand which have left England in a state of flux and fifth in the world Test rankings.
James Anderson, 35, and 31-year-old Stuart Broad are still the mainstays of a pace attack which struggled to make inroads in the Australian top order.
Although they have taken over 900 Test wickets between them, Anderson and Broad are nearing the end of their stellar careers and England need Mark Wood, their quickest bowler, Chris Woakes and Ben Stokes to shoulder more responsibility.
The spin bowling options are thin. Moeen Ali has been dropped after toiling in Australia where, shorn of confidence and unable to generate much turn, he never looked like taking many wickets.
Jack Leach played against New Zealand and looked promising but he was ruled out with a broken thumb and England have called up uncapped 20-year-old Dominic Bess.
Alastair Cook will open the batting in his 155th Test alongside Mark Stoneman, a partnership which failed to convince in Australia or New Zealand and has been retained largely due to a lack of viable alternatives.
Probable teams
England:
Alastair Cook, Mark Stoneman, Joe Root (captain), Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow (wicketkeeper), Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Chris Woakes, Dominic Bess, Stuart Broad, James Anderson
Pakistan:
Azhar Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Haris Sohail, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Sarfraz Ahmed (captain/wicketkeeper), Faheem Ashraf, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Abbas, Rahat Ali
Umpires:
Rod Tucker (AUS), Paul Reiffel (AUS)
TV umpire:
Bruce Oxenford (AUS)
Match referee:
Jeff Crowe (NZL)