ENGLAND are in huge trouble in the First Test after collapsing against Pakistan’s magical mixture of bowlers.
Joe Root’s team subsided to 12-3 before ending day two on 92-4 – still 234 runs behind.
The skill and variety in Pakistan’s attack is bewildering – whether it be the left-arm pace and aggression of Shaheen Shah Afridi, the clinical precision of Mohammad Abbas or the leg-spin wiles of Yasir Shah.
And don’t forget they also have a 17-year-old speedster in Naseem Shah.
That combination was too much for the cream of England’s batting and they will do well to avoid going 1-0 down here.
This all came after opener Shan Masood made an epic 156 from 319 deliveries before being ninth out in Pakistan’s total of 326 all out.
The ground might have been empty but the atmosphere was lively enough as Pakistan wrecked England’s top-order.
SOMETHING EXTRA SPECIAL
There were cheers and hoots and hollers as each wicket fell or batsmen played and missed. The noise came from the fielders with plenty of vocal support from the Pakistan reserve players watching from the hotel balcony.
Rory Burns was lbw on review in Shaheen’s opening over.
Shaheen, all 6ft 6ins of him, was a real handful, bowling with swing and pace generated by a flick of his wrist on release.
If Shaheen is tall, fast and aggressive, Abbas is forensic. He has the skill of a surgeon, methodically unpicking batsmen’s technique.
So it was with Dom Sibley, who was set up with a few deliveries outside off stump before a nip-backer trapped him plumb lbw. Sibley reviewed, but it was a waste.
Abbas then came up with something extra special to dispatch Ben Stokes.
Stokes was batting outside his crease to try to nullify any movement but that was no problem for Abbas, who seamed one past his outside edge and into the stumps.
England were 12-3 and, although Root and Pope put on 50 for the fourth wicket, that wasn’t the end of the misery.
Root, who was given out lbw to Shaheen on nought but overturned the decision on review, struggled his way to 14 from 58 deliveries before feathering an edge as he attempted to cut Yasir.
Ollie Pope played nicely for 46 not out and he and Jos Buttler will have to add plenty more.
Like on the first day, England bowled well before lunch and terribly afterwards.
James Anderson, switched away from the James Anderson End for the first time, had Babar Azam caught at slip from the final delivery of the first over.
BESS AND WORST
Pakistan managed just 48 runs in the two-hour morning session and also lost Asad Shafiq and Mohammad Rizwan before lunch. But then England had their horror spell.
It started with Dom Bess and Root bowling five overs of off-spin before the new ball – why didn’t Jofra Archer bowl? – and conceding 27 runs.
The confidence of Masood and Shadab Khan rose visibly.
The pair ran England ragged in the field with countless quick singles and Root was so slow to react and make sure his men were tight in the ring.
England were no better once the new ball arrived and the combined figures of Anderson and Stuart Broad with the fresh cherry were 8-0-42-0.
Masood reached his third century in consecutive Test innings with two runs to fine leg. It was a master class in patience and discipline for dozens of overs before he cut loose towards the end.
Buttler missed his third chance of the innings when he spilled an easy edge offered by Yasir. Buttler also fluffed the opportunity of a run out with a wayward throw to the bowler’s end.
Archer eventually re-entered the attack and dismissed Yasir and Abbas with successive balls. With wickets running out, Masood whacked Bess for 16 runs – including two huge sixes – in one over.