Pakistan are back in town! They’re back in England to play England in a 2 test match ‘series’, with the first being played at Lords and the second Headingley.
A lot has happened since they were here in 2016 when they won themselves a 2 all draw, winning both matches in London. Their iconic captain Misbah ul-Haq and legendary batsman Younis Khan have both retired and the core of this young team became Champions Trophy winners at the Oval in 2017.
And so England will face a very different test team, wicketkeeper Sarfaraz Ahmed has taken over the role of captain and several young guns find themselves picked to play the longer format of the game. Amongst them are Fakhar Zaman, whose century was a major factor in Pakistan’s Champions Cup Final win and Hasan Ali who was named player of the tournament after taking 13 wickets in 5 matches.
This warm up game would hopefully help head coach Micky Arthur and batting coach Grant Flowers settle on their batting line up. For this match Sami Aslam opened with Azhar Ali, Azhar was out as I arrived and Aslam had been out before that point. Aslam made 13, Azhar 15.
That brought in a controversial player for some, Imam ul-Haq, controversial because he’s the nephew of a former great, Inzamam ul-Haq, hopefully his well crafted 61 will allay any fears that he’s been picked because of his name rather than on form and ability.
Haris Sohail was out for 5, but Imam and Shafiq had a useful partnership of 58. Kent bowler Will Gidman took 5 for 47 as Pakistan were all out for 168. Hasan Ali hit 24 including two 4’s and two mighty 6’s before mis-timing a shot to be caught out.
It was a very grey day and the light was deteriorating and with Hasan, Rahat and Amir bowling the light was checked several times as Kent were batting. Daniel Bell-Drummond was caught LBW by Hasan Ali for 1 which left Sean Dickson and Joe Denly battling until bad light stopped play with Dickson on 24, Denly on 12 and Kent on 39 for 1.
Bad weather has meant that Day 2 and 3 were written off. I was lucky enough to meet a couple of the players and have a chat with Micky Arthur, it was good to hear Amir say he was missing Essex, I hope that means we’ll see him back at the County Ground!