Pakistan lose skipper Azhar as Masood holds firm

Afp, Manchester

6 August, 2020 12:00 AM printer

Pakistan captain Azhar Ali was out for a duck as the first Test against England got under way at Old Trafford on Wednesday.

At lunch, the tourists were 53-2, with opener Shan Masood having batted through a tough session to be 27 not out and Babar Azam unbeaten on four.

With two leg-spinners in Yasir Shah and Shadab Khan in Pakistan's side, there was a logic in Azhar's decision to bat first after he won the toss, with his slow bowlers likely to be more effective on a wearing pitch.

Masood and fellow opener Abid Ali did well to survive the first hour against an unchanged England.

England were without a Test series win against Pakistan since 2010 and they came into this match having lost the series opener in each of their last five campaigns against all opponents.

Left-hander Masood rode his luck with a couple of streaky boundaries through the slip cordon as a stiff breeze whipped round a largely silent Old Trafford.

As was the case during the West Indies series and England's separate 2-1 one-day international series win over Ireland, this match was taking place behind closed doors, with spectators barred on health grounds.

It meant Pakistan were denied the vibrant and vocal support from both travelling and expatriate fans that is usually a feature of their tours of England.

England, after 60 minutes of toiling away without a breakthrough, were indebted to the sheer speed of Jofra Archer for taking the first Pakistan wicket to fall on Wednesday.

Having tested out Abid with several short-pitched deliveries at around 85 mph, Sussex paceman Archer, with no obvious change in action, then cleverly bowled him with a full-length delivery for 16.

And Pakistan's 36-1 was soon transformed into 43-2 when Azhar was lbw to Chris Woakes for a six-ball duck after the in-form paceman moved one back into the right-hander off the seam.

Azhar reviewed but to no avail.