|First Test, Lord’s (day one)|
|England 184: Cook 70, Abbas 4-23, Hasan 4-51|
|Pakistan trail by 134 runs|
England’s new summer began with old failings as they were bowled out for 184 by Pakistan on day one of the first Test at Lord’s.
Joe Root’s side, who did not win in seven Tests over the winter and have endured long-standing problems with their top order, succumbed to a string of poor shots.
On a cloudy morning and faced with a green-tinged surface, Root opted to bat on winning the toss, only for his team to be undone by a Pakistan pace quartet that exposed their shortcomings.
Former skipper Alastair Cook, who has struggled for consistency, made 70, but England lost their last five wickets for 16 runs.
Opening bowler Mohammad Abbas took 4-23 and Hasan Ali, a star of Pakistan’s Champions Trophy triumph in the UK last year, picked up 4-51.
The tourists found themselves batting in the evening gloom, yet were taken to 50-1 by Azhar Ali and Haris Sohail, the latter dropped on 16 by Ben Stokes off Mark Wood.
The suspicion is that Pakistan are stronger with the ball than with the bat, but, with sunshine forecast for Friday and the pitch likely to get better for batting, the tourists have the opportunity to take a firm grip on this match.
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New season, same England
After a winter when they surrendered the Ashes and lost in New Zealand, England would have expected to feel more comfortable on home soil, where they have lost only one series in the previous five years.
Though Pakistan can take credit for the way they used the conditions, they were helped by an England team that gave wickets away with a combination of recklessness and indeterminate footwork.
Opener Mark Stoneman, under pressure to keep his place, was the first of five men to fall driving, bowled by Abbas by one that nipped through the gate. Hasan accounted for both Root and Dawid Malan, Root edging a drive at a ball so wide he could barely reach and Malan’s flat feet led to a poke behind.
Jonny Bairstow, promoted to number five, looked solid for 27 in stand of 57 with Cook, but he was bowled pushing at Faheem Ashraf.
Stokes, playing his first match in England since the incident outside a Bristol nightclub in September, looked to have no trouble adjusting after a stint in the Indian Premier League but, like Bairstow, was dismissed out of the blue when Abbas pinned him leg before for 38.
Jos Buttler, recalled largely on the back on his IPL form, had 14 from as many balls before he flashed Hasan to second slip. From there the tail, including debutant Dom Bess, folded in the space of six deliveries.
Fluent Cook provides silver lining
Cook had managed only one half-century in 17 innings since 243 against West Indies at Edgbaston last summer, albeit if that was an unbeaten 244 in the fourth Ashes Test.
Here, as he played his 153rd consecutive Test and equalled the record of Australia great Allan Border, he looked close to his best.
Cook left the ball well and displayed assured footwork, but the most eye-catching feature of his play was as string of fluent cover drives.
The opener survived a very close lbw review from Faheem on 23 but, that aside, was the solid presence that England’s flimsy batting so desperately needs.
Even Cook, though, was found wanting for his dismissal. A lack of footwork left him in no position to play a Mohammad Amir delivery that held its line up the Lord’s slope and clipped the top of off stump.
Pakistan reap the benefits of preparation
Pakistan’s tour began in April and has already included three matches against counties and a Test victory in Ireland.
Indeed, their XI for this match has more days of first-class cricket between them this summer than England’s – 126 to England’s 82.
Their readiness for this match shone through with the accuracy of their bowling and quality of their catching.
Captain Sarfraz Ahmed said he would have bowled if he had won the toss and was vindicated by a pace-bowling unit that barely bowled a short delivery and moved the ball, particularly in the air, throughout the day.
Asad Shafiq’s smart catch off Buttler at second slip and Amir’s athletic dive to hold Wood at mid-on typified a near faultless display in the field.
Although Imam-ul-Haq was lbw to Stuart Broad for four, Azhar and Sohail survived a tough period under the floodlights, even if Sohail was missed when third slip Stokes dived at a chance that would have gone straight to second slip Malan.
‘It’s deja vu for England’ – what they said
Former England captain Michael Vaughan on BBC Test Match Special: “It’s deja vu for England. It doesn’t matter what conditions have been in the last couple of years, they have generally been 100-4 – whether Joe Root is at three or four, whether Bairstow is four, fix or six. It’s like the brains have been trained.
“You’ve got to try and make it as difficult as possible for the opposition. Is positivity hitting a four or ending the day on 230-6 when you have grafted it out?
“It was terrific cricket all day from Pakistan. England now have to win every day.”
England batsman Alastair Cook on TMS: “I reckon it’s going to be a first-innings-plays-fourth-innings game.
“Pakistan took a big leap forward bowling us out for 180, but it can turn very quickly – 50-1 can be 80-4.”
The stats you may have missed
- Only once have England been bowled out for a lower score than 184 after winning the toss and batting in a Lord’s Test, in 1955
- England lost their last five wickets for 16 in 34 balls in 25 minutes
- Alastair Cook and Mark Stoneman average 19 as an opening partnership from 19 innings, with a highest stand of 58. They have failed to put on more than 35 in their past 10 Test innings together
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