England on the rocks
England are under huge pressure to avoid going behind in their Test series against Pakistan, after closing on 92 for four on the second day of the opening Test, still trailing Pakistan by 234 runs.
After Pakistan dismissed England’s top four – including the crucial wickets of Ben Stokes and Joe Root – in a captivating final session, Jofra Archer admitted that Pakistan’s attack posed a major threat.
“They’re a world-class team and they probably have one of the best bowling line-ups on the Test circuit,” Archer said after Pakistan had unleashed their much-hyped
young quick pair of Shaheen Afridi and Naseem Shah on England, “Not every session is going to go your way.”
After Shaheen had dismissed Rory Burns leg before wicket with the fourth ball, seam bowler Mohammad Abbas snared Dom Sibley lbw and then clean bowled Ben
Stokes for a duck to leave England in disarray at 12 for three.
Yasir Shah – one of Pakistan’s two leg-spinners – then removed captain Root, who was attempting to cut the ball.
The wickets leave England dependent upon the undefeated pair of Ollie Pope and Jos Buttler – who reached 46 and 15 not out respectively at the close – if they are to get anywhere near challenging Pakistan’s total of 326.
England’s position is especially precarious because they selected a five-man bowling attack, with Chris Woakes – who made one run in two innings in last month’s Test series against the West Indies – at No7.
“We just need to get as close to, or past, their total,” Archer said. “The wicket is getting easier to bat
on and I have no doubt that the two not-out can go on and score big.
“I think they can put on a really big partnership and help swing the momentum of the game in our favour.”
Archer bowled impressively to take three for 59 from 22 overs, and spoke for the first time since missing the second Test against West Indies after breaching quarantine rules. “I’m very happy to be back,” he said. “I’m fine, I’m back playing cricket again. Whatever happened last series is gone and I’m just glad that at the start of this series I got three wickets to my name.”
Archer, who enjoyed a spectacular maiden international summer last year in the World Cup and Ashes, admitted that players have found the biosecure arrangements and the lack of crowds at international games challenging.
“It’s been a bit weird,” he said. Archer has been selected for all three of the Tests that he has been available for this summer. “It’s nice to get some playing time out there,” he said. “It’s also nice to get some wickets as well. I felt like I bowled well against the West Indies I just didn’t have anything to show for it.”
Clean bowled: England all-rounder Ben Stokes is dismissed by Pakistan paceman Mohammad Abbas for a duck at Emirates Old Trafford yesterday, with a ball that straightened, beat the outside edge and hit off stump
Still fighting: Jofra Archer believes England can match tourists’ total