DateLine: 11th August 2016
By Andy Jalil at KIA Oval
England make recovery after Pakistan struck with early wickets
London Ė Moeen Ali, with a brilliant third Test century, was the architect of Englandís recovery after a dramatic opening session of the fourth Test had seen Pakistan reduce England to just 92 for the loss of four wickets. Jonny Bairstow and Moeen combined in an excellent stand of 93 to revive the innings taking their side to 219 for six when Bairstow, on 55, edged behind off Mohammad Amir in the third over after tea. England were finally dismissed for 328 and Sohail Ahmed finished with five for 68 in a superb bowling effort. Pakistan faced three overs before stumps and were 3 for the loss of Sami Aslam, lbw to Stuart Broad.
England fielded an unchanged side from the previous Test while Pakistan had two changes, bringing in Wahab Riaz and giving Iftikhar Ahmed his Test debut. England decided to make first use of a greenish pitch and the fall of wickets began early, after just six overs Amir, who had struggled for line and length in his first three overs, claimed the wicket of Alex Hales who clipped a very low catch to square leg.
Hales asked for a review but the umpireís decision stood. Englandís then suffered a batting debacle in which three wickets went for just 5 runs in a space of 15 balls. Alastair Cook, having been dropped on 34 by Iftikhar at first slip, chose the wrong ball to pull a ball later off Sohail, it wasnít that short of a length, and he dragged it on to his stumps leaving England on 69 for two.
The next two went in a space of one run both with the help of Sarfraz Ahmed behind the stumps. Joe Root, on 26 with 4 fours, went on the back foot to push a short ball only to get a slight edge and a run later England were 74 for four when Riaz, who had worked up a fine pace, angled the ball into James Vince and moved it away late taking the outside edge. Riaz had taken three for 34 in 8.2 overs.
Bairstow was fortunate on 13 when he was held at point off Riaz only to see the umpires arm raised for a no ball. He followed up his escape with a four off the next ball driven beautifully through cover. Pakistanís fielding remained poor as another catch, this time off Amir, just below waist height, was put down by Azhar Ali, having got both hands to the ball. Moeen Ali, on 9, was the fortunate batsman.
Bairstow and Moeen settled into a fine partnership and Moeen took his score to 23 with a lovely drive to the mid-wicket boundary off the bowling of spinner Yasir Shah who was brought on for the first time to bowl the 31st over. Bairstow played his shots freely later in the second session and reached his ninth Test fifty from 73 balls, the last of his seven fours at that stage was his finest, a square drive to point off Yasir.
Moeen used his feet well against the spinner, as he usually likes to do, and drove him down the ground for four to reach 33. His next two scoring shots were for fours, first a slog/sweep off Iftikhar Ahmed in his first over and then an edge off Riaz. In Iftikharís next over, Moeen went down the pitch again to lift him over mid-wicket for six taking his score to 48 and his eighth Test half century followed from 77 balls. Apart from the one six, he too struck seven fours as this partner had done and their stand reached 90 at tea with England on 200 for five.
With Bairstow departing soon after tea, Moeen and Chris Woakes added 82 before the latter, having hit a valuable 45 including eight fours, failed to get behind the line of the ball from Sohail and edged behind the stumps. On the same total of 282 Stuart Broad was leg before to Sohail with Moeen on 84. He moved on to 89 when Steve Finn was bowled by Sohail and finally the pace bowler had Moeen held for 108 having brought up his hundred in style with a glorious six over mid-wicket off Yasir.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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