Sunday, 27 Sep, 2020


Pakistan England Test Series

Cliff Hanger at Old Trafford 

Saleque Sufi |
Update: 2020-08-08 12:12:28
Cliff Hanger at Old Trafford  Photo: Collected

1st Test Played at Old Trafford, Manchester from 5-9 August 2020 

Brief Scorecard At Stumps at Stumps On Day Three  
Pakistan 1st Innings:  326 All Out in 109.3  (Shan Masood156, Babar Azam 69, Shan Shadab Khan 45, Abid Ali 16, SCJ Broad 3/56, JC Archer 3/59 CR Woakes 2/43) and Pakistan 2nd Innings 137/8 In 44 Overs (Asad Shafique 29, Mohammad Rizwan 27, Abid Ali 20, Azhar Ali 18, BA Stokes 2/11, C Woakes 2/11, Stuwart Broad 2/23) 
England 1st Innings 219 All out in 70.3 Overs (Olie Pope 62, Jos Buttler 4/38, Yasir Shah 4/ 66, Shadab Khan 2/13, Abbas 2/33, Nasim Shah 1/44, Shahin Shah Afridi 1/51) 
Pakistan leads by 244runs with two wickets at hand.

Old Trafford test between England and Pakistan at stumps on day three is hanging on a balance. Chasing and winning test scoring 250 or more at this venue traditionally is always a huge challenge. Wicket has lot of turn and bounce, some balls revered. Pakistan has five quality bowlers –three pacers and two wicket taking leg spinners. They are already 244 runs ahead with two wickets at hand. Another 20-30 runs can take the match away from the home team. Even 250 will not be easy. 

To win from here England has to bat out of their skin and Pakistan has to drop no catches. What an absorbing fourth days play is waiting . Hope Rain will not interfere. 

The all round top quality Pakistan attack melting English middle and late order restricted their first innings to 219. Pakistan getting sizable 107 runs first innings lead could not take the match almost beyond the home teams grasp by stumps of day three. Pakistan with 137/8 runs in the second innings can dream of going 1-0 ahead in the series if they can add another 20-30 runs on the morning of day four. Wicket is turning and bouncing. Pacers also got some reverse swing. Pakistan attack has past masters of these arts. The task of England is well cut out. Scoring over 250 on this wickets will not be easy at all. 

Weather improved on day three. Sun baked the wicket turning it to a wrist spinners happy hunting ground. Two quality leg spinners Yasir and Shadab toying with English late order earned Pakistan to a match winning position. We could not make out what let Azhar delay bringing Shadab into the attack. He bowled only 3.3 overs in which he took 2/13. 

England resumed their innings at 92/4 in the morning. Pope and Buttler had to survive very hostile and top quality pace bowling of Abbas, Afridi and Nasim with grit and application. There were many play and miss. Few edges did not carry. In the morning session England managed to survive losing only the wicket of Pope taken by teenage bustler Nasim. Sun baked the wicket making it ideal hunting ground for high quality leg spin duo of Pakistan. Yasir and Shadab squeezed English late middle order and tail wrapping up the innings for 219. 107 runs first innings lead on a bowlers friendly wicket in most cases considered match winning.

Pakistan second innings started disastrously with first innings hero Shan Masood leaving the scene in the very second over caught behind off the bowling of Broad for a duck. What a leveler cricket creates. King on a day turns beggar another day. England could grow to a better position by tea if Stokes could hold the edge of Abid off Anderson. I am sure 9 out of 10 times tokes would grab the catch. But this time it did not stick. Perhaps the match was dropped by Stokes, who knows. 

However, just after tea English captain brought in his only quality spinner Don Bess. In his very first over he beat Abid Ali couple of time and finally had him caught by Woakes at his score of 20. Abid unnecessarily tried to sweep on a turning wicke.

Babar joined his captain Azha. Lot was depending on this pair to carry Pakistan to a comfortable lead. But like Shan Masood, Babar also failed to repeat his first innings heroics. Stokes brought in Woakes in a bit to change end for Don Bes. He induced Babar offering a low catch to Stokes in the slip. This time he did not fail. Pakistan suddenly became 48/3. England could see some lights. Asad Joined Azhar. Two of the experienced Pakistani batsman started searing Pakistan to safety. Azhar was expected to carry his team upon his shoulders. But Woakes returning to the attack possibly to let spinner Bess changing end had Azar LBW at a very critical stage.  Reducing Pakistan to 4/63 England started dreaming. One more wicket at that stage could expose the long tail. But Asad Shafique and Rizwan kept rotating strikes till the lead grew beyond 200. In a bit to steal a sharp single Asad ran himself out. The way Asad and Rizwan were batting they could bat England out of the game. Sat 101/5 Pakistan had 208 runs lead with half of the team back in the hut. 

At a critical stage Root resorted to Stokes and brought back trusted Broad. Broad and Stokes immediately struck two vital blows trapping Rizwan and Shadab LBW. Match fate started swinging like a pendulum. With 9, 10 and Jack left England could hope against the hope. Pakistan with 137/8 is 244 ahead. They need another 20-30 runs tomorrow to take the match away from England.

BDST: 1212 HRS, AUG 08, 2020

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