The Ghost of Headingley - 2nd Test 1st Day - England v Pakistan
In a complete reversal of fortunes from the Lord’s Test, Pakistan at the close of the play on opening day at Headingley, Leeds, have quite lot to do to stay in the game.
Such is the nature of conditions at Headingley, toss of a coin becomes the talking point of the day. On a hot, humid morning, Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed, opted to bat and that was not a bad decision. One just hopes it was not taken to avoid batting last, for that reflects a defensive mind-set. It was a shame that by the middle of the day they had slipped to 79-7 in conditions that were not outrageously in favour of bowlers. Though one can not deny the fact that there was swing and seam movement for the bowlers, including Chris Woakes, who when fit should not be left out in English conditions. A quality all-rounder.
England v Pakistan 2nd Test
Venue - Headingley, Leeds
Showing maturity well beyond his age, 19-year old Shadab Khan posted a fighting fifty, his third in row, to bring some respectability to the first innings total. The tourists needed at least one front-line batsman to occupy the crease for long enough to take advantage of good-pace wicket and the fast outfield.
Having taken the heavy roller between the two innings that killed off any moisture left in the wicket, England batsmen had a relatively easy life, compared to their opposite number. The four-man Pakistan pace attack bowled reasonably well with Faheem Ashraf, looking the most penetrative. His spell of 1-16 off 7 overs was quite impressive. Originally from Daska, he has represented Faisalabad district as a bowling all-rounder and gradually seems to be settling down in a similar role in the Pakistan side as well. Good luck to this promising young cricketer.
The recent Test victories achieved by this young Pakistan side at Dublin and Lord’s, has prompted, favourable response, from back home.
Naseem Ahmed, one of the pioneers of Urdu commentary in Pakistan in the late 1970s, is full of admiration for the 2018 squad and shared his thoughts from Lahore. ‘In my view the quality change in Pakistan team is that slowly but steadily they are transforming them from unpredictable to a predictable XI. I feel sorry for the so called Gurus at home who predicted a miserable England tour but they forgot that our fast bowlers are better exploiters of English conditions. The result is before you. Whatever little I know about cricket I can see this team will be rated as favourites in the coming World Cup and the label of underdogs will go away. Our media is also ignorant about the finer points of cricket and they just play the negativity.’
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