Friday, September 18, 2020

ICC: Babar and Masood lead the way on shortened opening day

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Pakistan finished on top of a rain-affected first day in Manchester thanks to unbeaten knocks from Shan Masood and Babar Azam.

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After electing to bat first, Pakistan openers Abid Ali and Shan Masood managed to see off the opening spells of James Anderson and Stuart Broad, despite numerous play-and-misses, and had accumulated 36 runs by the time Abid was undone by a skillful piece of bowling from Jofra Archer. A pair of bouncers in Archer’s first over had got Abid ducking and weaving, before the right-arm quick unleashed a beautifully-executed in-swinger to make a mess of the opener’s stumps.

Captain Azhar Ali had faced only three balls when a rain shower forced a brief delay, and Chris Woakes trapped him in front with an in-ducker almost immediately upon resumption.

At 43/2 Pakistan were in a perilous position, but Masood remained resolute in defence and found support in the form of Babar Azam. That support turned into the main event after lunch, as the vice-captain raced to his fifty from only 70 balls, having scored just four from his first 27 balls.

In an innings filled with his usual array of shots, including commanding front and back foot cover-drives, Babar seized momentum for the visitors following their shaky start.

Dom Bess could have had the wicket of Masood either side of a rain delay, drawing a thin edge before the break and a clear stumping chance after, but on both occasions extra bounce prevented wicket-keeper Jos Buttler from taking the ball cleanly.

Only 7.5 overs were possible after the rain before bad light forced a premature end to the day’s play, during which time Babar and Masood’s partnership grew to 96 runs. The opener ended the day just four runs short of his own half-century, having faced 152 balls, while the team score had moved on to 139/2 by the time stumps was called.

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