Rawalpindi: Openers Abdullah Shafique and Imam-ul-Haq stitched an unbeaten 181-run opening stand to lead Pakistan’s fightback in reply to England’s 657 on the second day of the first Test, here on Friday.
Shafique (89 not out) and fellow opener Imam (90 not out) looked comfortable and confident at the crease and were marched towards centuries of their own at stumps on Day 2 as the tourists toiled in the field in the afternoon and evening sessions after being bowled out before lunch.
England captain Ben Stokes constantly tinkered with the field, keeping several players close to the bat, but his bowlers struggled to create many chances on a docile Rawalpindi pitch.
The visitors used six of their bowling options but were unable to find the breakthrough. Wicketkeeper Ollie Pope had two half-chances while standing in for Ben Foakes, who was still suffering the after-effects of a viral infection that spread through 13 to 14 members of the touring party in the build-up to the game.
Pope missed a tough chance after the ball seemingly caught the edge of Imam’s bat. Soon after, he failed to take the ball cleanly after Jack Leach beat the bat of Shafique, who had overbalanced out of his crease. By the time Pope whipped off the bails, the batter had got his foot behind the line.
There was also a moment where England thought they had made a breakthrough with the score on 109, but the replay showed the ball had hit the ground before bouncing into Pope’s gloves off James Anderson. In the evening, Keaton Jennings had a half-chance at short-leg, when the ball was pummelled at the substitute fielder, hitting him in the midriff.
Earlier, the morning session was the most entertaining of the day, as England started with the same attacking intent that saw them rewrite the record books on day one when they put on an incredible 506/4 in just 75 overs.
England set a new record for their highest score in the sub-continent, narrowly eclipsing their previous total of 652 in Chennai back in 1985, with an innings including 95 boundaries, of which nine were sixes.
Harry Brook brought up a maiden Test 150 and carted Zahid Mahmood for 27 — setting a new record for most runs in a single over by an England batter in Tests — after hitting six consecutive fours the previous day. The Pakistan bowlers had more opportunities than on the first day, but England could have scored more runs, with many wickets given away.
Stokes resumed the day on 34 from 15 balls and sent his first delivery over Naseem Shah’s head into the stands, but was bowled by the young quick later that over for 41, a potential missed opportunity to capitalise on the batter-friendly.
Liam Livingstone also departed just after hitting a six into the top tier, picking out the man on the deep square-leg boundary, while fellow debutant Will Jacks made 30 off 29 balls and Ollie Robinson contributed 37.
Brief scores: England 657 (Harry Brook 153, Zak Crawley 122, Ollie Pope 108, Ben Duckett 107; Zahid Mahmood 4-235, Naseem Shah 3-140) lead Pakistan 181/0 (Imam-ul-Haq 90 not out, Abdullah Shafique 89 not out) by 476 runs.