Recent Match Report – England vs Pakistan 1st Test 2022/23

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Tea Pakistan 579 and 257 for 5 (Azhar 37*, Salman 30*) need another 86 runs to beat England 657 and 264 for 7 dec

An unbroken fifth-wicket stand worth 59 between Azhar Ali and Agha Salman reduced Pakistan’s target to double-figures despite England finally making the ball talk to set up a gripping final session in the first Test at Rawalpindi.
England’s bold declaration at tea on the fourth day set Pakistan 343 to win on a pitch that has seen 1757 runs scored so far in this match and by tea, the hosts needed 86 with five wickets in hand after the visitors claimed two more in the afternoon session.

Azhar, batting with an injured index finger on his right hand, was unbeaten on 37 at the interval while Salman, who scored a first-innings fifty in just his third Test, was not out 30 with both sides in a potential race against Rawalpindi’s rapidly setting sun to force victory.

Mohammad Rizwan and Saud Shakeel took to England’s spinners during the morning session, so Ben Stokes entered the fray in the first over after lunch and managed to find some reverse swing, which James Anderson then exploited to devastating effect.

With the match set to swing and sway with every wicket and boundary, Anderson seized the momentum when he removed the dangerous Rizwan on 46 with one that reversed just enough and found an edge that flew through to Ollie Pope behind the stumps.

So ended an 87-run stand between Rizwan and Shakeel and the dismissal brought back Azhar, who had retired hurt the previous evening after copping a nasty blow to the finger from Ollie Robinson.

It was Robinson who struck again when Shakeel fell after a fine half-century on debut. England had set attacking fields throughout and Robinson snared Shakeel with a fuller ball outside off which hooped to short cover where Keaton Jennings, substitute fielder for the injured Liam Livingstone, took a mid-air stunner leaping to his right. From 163 for 3 at lunch, Pakistan were 198 for 5, still 145 runs adrift of their target.

England thought Robinson had another when he struck Salman on the pad lunging forward, but umpire Joel Wilson’s not-out decision was upheld on review with the ball going down the leg side.

If they hoped that was the breakthrough they needed, England were convinced when a return to spin saw Salman given out lbw after being struck in the midriff attempting to slog-sweep Jack Leach. But the batter overturned his dismissal when the DRS revealed the ball was going over the stumps. Compounding their woes, Robinson saw Pope drop a tough chance down the leg side off Azhar, on 36, in the over before tea.

Having resumed on 24 not out, Shakeel moved to 63 by lunch, with Rizwan not out 42 after upping the tempo from a sedate start with the visitors hunting eight wickets on the final day.

They got just one in the morning session – that of Imam-ul-Haq, who had scored a century in the first innings then steadied his side from 25 for 2 on the fourth day. Imam added just five more to his overnight 43 before he was strangled down the leg side by Anderson, giving England an important breakthrough after five tight overs of seam bowling by Anderson and Robinson.

Imam’s dismissal brought Rizwan to the crease and he took 24 balls to get off the mark as Pakistan managed just 13 runs in the first hour.
England were unable to call upon Livingstone after a series-ending knee injury sustained on the second day. He had been handed his Test debut as a heavy hitter who can bowl both offspin and legspin but didn’t bowl at all during Pakistan’s first innings, where another big-hitting part-time spinner on debut, Will Jacks, claimed six wickets.

Jacks entered the attack after first drinks were taken on Monday and Rizwan let loose with a slog-sweep to the boundary followed by a second four in three balls, clearing midwicket to bring up Pakistan’s 100.

Beaten once by Leach who found a skerrick of turn in the following over, Rizwan responded by cutting his next ball through the covers to the boundary, his third four in eight balls, before launching Jacks over long-off for six.

A switch apparently flicked, the heat spread as Shakeel drove straight back over Leach’s head on the first ball of the next over. A repeat shot brought up his maiden Test fifty as the promise of the previous evening that it would be both sides vying for the win looked to be back on.
Rizwan helped himself to 12 runs off Leach shortly before the lunch break, charging down the pitch and chipping over cover with Jacks running back but unable to make up the ground as the ball dribbled for two. He smashed the next ball for six into the sightscreen and clubbed the last ball of the over through point to cap an excellent morning for the hosts.

Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo

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