Bowlers had Pakistan on the ropes but tourists showed plenty of fight
Iam glad England selected the same team that won the last Test against West Indies. If captain Joe Root and coach Chris Silverwood felt this was their best team two weeks ago, why change it now?
All the England players should be on top of the world, with confidence sky-high, after a massive win over West Indies. All the bowlers have had a week’s rest, so any talk of resting or rotating either of the two older bowlers, James Anderson and Stuart Broad, should not apply. If either of them has a heavy workload this match then one or both could be rested to be ready for the third Test.
In the morning session, with four main-line seamers, England were able to rotate them in spells, keeping the Pakistan batsmen under pressure.
With the Dukes ball, murky skies and a fresh pitch, when a captain has four quality seamers in English conditions, batting is very hard work. The seamers are always fresh, they are at you and occasionally bowl magic balls that you hope you play and miss! You never feel you are in, and it is a struggle to score runs as you spend more time trying not to get out instead of scoring runs. Defence is absolutely crucial.
Before lunch, under bowling pressure, the Pakistan batsmen could only score slowly, and they could never relax or enjoy batting. It was a battle to keep their concentration and keep their wickets intact. I enjoyed a tough confrontation between bat and ball, but some guys can get frustrated and make mistakes.
At lunch, Pakistan were only 53 for two and the situation could have got worse very quickly.
But Shan Masood and Babar Azam played really well. Batting
became a bit easier as the ball got older, and Pakistan could think themselves unlucky that just when they were getting into a good position, with two batsmen well set, the rain came.
After the restart, Jos Buttler missed a sitter of a stumping. The left-hander Masood had a brainstorm and jumped down the pitch far too early at Dom Bess. He was so far down he could have been run out! Off-spinner to left-hander should be the easiest to take, as the wicketkeeper has a clear, uninterrupted view of the ball. Jos never got a glove on it as the ball hit him on the left shoulder. I realise the ball bounced a bit, but it was a bad miss.