Azam frus­trates Eng­land in open­ing test

Fiji Sun - - SPORTS -

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.”

SCORE­CARD

Pak­istan 139-2 (49 overs): Babar 69*, Ma­sood

46*, Woakes 1-14; Eng­land: Yet to bat. –

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