MANCHESTER: Pakistan’s Babar Azam and Shan Masood helped their team register 139 score as they finished the rain-affected day on a satisfactory note at Old Trafford in Manchester.
Babar Azam served notice to England that he is ready to continue his remarkable rise in Test cricket, compiling a regal half-century before being halted by the weather on day one of the series opener in Manchester.
Already an established white-ball star, Babar arrived in England boasting an fast-growing reputation in the longer format, averaging 65.5 since the start of 2018 including four centuries in his last seven innings.
That is well clear of both Steve Smith and Virat Kohli – the top two red ball batsmen in the world – and his effortless 69 not out showed his credentials in full as he guided the tourists to 139 for two at Emirates Old Trafford.
His knock was easily the highlight of a first day comprising just 49 overs, with 11 boundaries of the highest order in a stay on exactly 100 balls.
Chris Woakes, England’s best performer with a wonderfully controlled eight-over morning burst, might have dismissed Babar first ball with a beauty that threatened both the outside edge and the off stump but that near miss was as good as it got against the 25-year-old.
As well as frustrating England’s attack, Babar also left his partner Shan Masood (46) playing second fiddle. The opener batted studiously for 45no, with Jos Buttler fluffing two chances off Dom Bess on that score – shelling a catch and missing a stumping.
Joe Root was insistent he too would have batted and, though the moody skies and ever-present floodlights gave his bowlers some cause for optimism, Masood and Abid Ali showed plenty of composure to negotiate the first hour for the addition of 32.
Neither man was flawless but stuck admirably to the task of seeing off the initial bout of Anderson and Stuart Broad. While they drew a blank it took Archer all of seven balls to make presence known, forcing Abid back in his crease then flattening his off stump with a fuller ball that seamed in off the surface.
He made his way back for 16, an exit made all the more frustrating by a brief rain shower which saw the rest of the players follow after just three more deliveries. After a brief recess Woakes sent Azhar Ali for a more permanent trip to the pavilion.
Scores in brief:
Pakistan 139 for 2, 49 overs (Babar Azam 69 not out, Shan Masood 46 not out; Chris Woakes 1-14, Jofra Archer 1-23)