DateLine: 22nd July 2016
By Andy Jalil at Old Trafford
England pile on the runs on first day of second Test
Manchester Ė Marvellous batting by Alastair Cook and Joe Root which saw them dominate almost the entire first two sessions in the second Test enabled England to end the first dayís play in a strong position of 314 for four with Root unbeaten on 141 having occupied the crease for four hours. Facing 246 balls he struck 18 fours and along with Cook added 185 for the second wicket. Cook, having brought up his 29th Test century was bowled by Mohammad Amir for 105 on the stroke of tea.
Having decided to make first use of a batting track with very little grass, England batsmen dug in after the loss of the first wicket, on 25, when Alex Hales was dismissed for 10 inside the first half hour. It was an excellent ball of full length from Amir which swung in late to crash into the stumps. Three balls earlier he was dropped at gully by Asad Shafiq, it was a sharp chance and Shafiq managed to get a hand to the ball which sped to the third man boundary.
While Pakistan are unchanged from their victorious side at Lordís, England have brought in fast bowler James Anderson and all-rounder Ben Stokes, both now considered fit. They replace the two pace bowlers Steve Finn and Jake Ball. Finn was wicket less in the first Test and Ball claimed just his maiden Test wicket.
Pakistan are unbeaten in their last seven Tests and England are hoping , after the defeat at Lordís, to bounce back on a ground where they have not lost a Test since 2001 and that was against Pakistan. The only survivor in the current team from that match is Younis Khan who had contributed 65 in his 14th Test match. A good omen for England is that they have not lost on this ground since 1987, when batting first.
In a fine second wicket partnership, Cook and Root gave England a solid foundation, against the four-bowler attack. Pakistan made a double bowling change in their effort for a second wicket when Wahab Riaz and Yasir Shah were brought on to replace Amir and Rahat Ali but it made little difference to either batsman. While not taking any chances, they were quick to pick the right balls to hit as the kept scoring steadily bringing up the 50 of their stand from 100 balls.
Root, whose first two scoring shots were to the boundary, played some delightful strokes which included an effortless back-foot shot to the cover boundary off Amir. By lunch they took England to 95 for one with Root on 40 and Cook a run more. Rootís 21st Test 50 came from 86 balls and his captainís 50th Test half century followed from 90 balls with a four off Yasir to mid-off with the hundred of the stand following.
As the second session progressed so did the runs for England with the two batsmen comfortably playing the Pakistan bowling. Cook took two fours in an over from Yasir, the first of which was a lovely drive straight past the bowler. He then took his score to 76 with an exquisite drive to the extra cover boundary when Yasir decided to flight one in tempting Cook out of the crease.
While Cook raced ahead in scoring, Root became watchful facing 46 balls without managing a boundary until he swept Yasir for four to take his score to 70. Cook went on to reach his hundred from 157 balls when he ran two to mid-wicket off Amir. It was an excellent knock, coming from 157 balls with 14 hits to the boundary. He added another boundary before, on the stroke of tea, he played-on to a ball from Amir which slightly came in from a full length.
That was the breakthrough that the tourists urgently needed and then 28 runs later they claimed the third wicket with Rahat Ali having James Vince held behind for 18. He was enticed into a drive at a ball well outside off stump and paid the price with the edge going into Sarfraz Ahmedís gloves. Root went on to register his tenth Test hundred and the first against Pakistan from 167 balls and continued to play freely, the finest shot of his innings was the drive on one knee to the cover boundary off Wahab which took him to 115.
The second new ball was taken as soon as it became due and Root went on to add 73 for the fourth wicket with Gary Ballance before Rahat struck with a short ball which rose and came in late to bowl him touching the shoulder of the bat.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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