Pakistan provoked England’s latest batting collapse by combining disciplined bowling with superb catching before showing resistance in its reply to dominate the opening day of the first Test at Lord’s on Thursday.
A new international season started with some familiar problems for England, which stumbled to 43-3 after winning the toss and then lost its last five wickets for 16 runs in 4.4 overs to be dismissed for 184 soon after tea.
Opener Alastair Cook was the only batsman to stand out, making 70 in his record-leveling 153rd consecutive test.
Pakistan was 50-1 at stumps, trailing by 134 runs.
Pakistan seamers bowled a good line and length on a day when the ball swung around and moved off the seam. Mohammad Abbas and Hasan Ali each took four wickets. Cook and Jonny Bairstow (27) were both bowled from deliveries that shaped in and seamed away to hit off stump.
Allied to that were some surprisingly good catches by a team that is often criticized for its fielding, with Asad Shafiq taking two sharp catches at second slip to remove the recalled Jos Buttler and 20-year-old debutant Dom Bess, while Mohammad Amir dived to his right to snaffle Mark Wood for the final wicket.
England’s total was its lowest in the first innings at Lord’s since 2005 and the spotlight invariably fell on England captain Joe Root and his decision to bat first in what proved to be difficult conditions. Moments after Root made his choice, Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed said he would have wanted to bowl if given the choice.
“It was an interesting one,” Cook said. “We’ll only know at the end of the game if it was the right or wrong decision. … We were probably 60-70 (runs) short on that wicket, and it’s probably going to be a first innings vs. Fourth innings game. Chasing 250 on that last day could be hard work.”
Pakistan lost Imam-ul-Haq, trapped lbw to Stuart Broad for 4, early in the reply but Azhar
Ali (18) and Haris Sohail (21) held out in the face of some probing seam bowling by Broad, Jimmy Anderson and Mark Wood.
Sohail was dropped on 16 by Ben Stokes, who dived to his right from third slip in front of Dawid Malam at second slip.
Pakistan won by 75 runs at Lord’s in the first test of the series in 2016. Cook’s run of successive test matches, which stretches from 2006, tied the record held by former Australia captain Allan Border.
“It would be a nice one to knock off,” Cook said.
“You need a little bit of luck, don’t you, not to break a finger or anything?” the former test captain added.
“The only time I’ve broken a finger has been away from a test match. The mental side is harder than the physical side. I just stand in the slips so it’s all right.”