Azam frustrates England in opening test
London: England endured a difficult start to the first Test against Pakistan on a frustrating opening day at Emirates Old Trafford.
The visitors moved to 139-2 in between 41 overs being lost to rain and bad light.
They had been 43-2 before Babar Azam stroked a classy unbeaten 69 in a partnership of 96 with opener Shan Masood, who is 46 not out.
They scored increasingly freely against an England side who lost their way with the ball after lunch, while wicketkeeper Jos Buttler dropped an edge off Masood and missed a straightforward chance to stump the same man from the bowling of Dom Bess either side of a three-hour break for rain.
With Ben Stokes not yet fit to bowl, England are unchanged from last week’s final Test against West Indies.
Former England captain Nasser Hussain believes “world class” Babar Azam is on the same level as Virat Kohli or Steve Smith and will be key if Pakistan are to beat England.
It continues a fine run of form for the Pakistan No 4, who averages more than any other player in Test cricket since the start of 2018.
“I think for Pakistan to win this series, Babar Azam needs to have a good series. If he has a good series, it will be very, very watchable. He is a gun player.”
“If this lad was Virat Kohli, everyone would be talking about it but because it is Babar Azam, no one is talking about it. He averages 68 since 2018 and 55 in white-ball cricket. He’s young, he’s elegant, he’s got all the swagger.
“They keep going on about the fab four, it’s the fab five and Babar Azam is in that.”
Pakistan 139-2 (49 overs): Babar 69*, Masood
46*, Woakes 1-14; England: Yet to bat. –