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So, today I took another 800 photos, but I’m going to write before I edit too many of them. I’m not feeling too much angst about the cricket but I do feel a need to make a few points.

Today Pakistan played Test Cricket, that seems a strange thing to say because of course England are playing Pakistan in a Test Match.  Pakistan started the day on 50 for 1 after Imam had lost his wicket for 4 on Day 1.  Azhar Ali was at the wicket with Haris Sohail and Pakistan were only 134 runs behind England’s total.

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Azhar is an experienced batsman, with 63 tests and over 5000 test runs to his name,  I saw him score 139 against England at Edgbaston in 2016, his was going to be a key wicket.  Azhar and Sohail put on 75 before Mark Wood got a breakthrough, Sohail was caught by Bairstow for 39, he’d played 95 balls.

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Jimmy Anderson who’d opened the bowling from the pavilion end, replaced Stuart Broad from the Nursery Road end, taking the wicket of Azhar, Pakistan were 119 for 3.   Azhar had made 50 but had faced 136 balls and spent 209 minutes at the crease, Test match batting right there.

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Asad Shafiq had come in at 4, another experienced man, with 59 tests, he was joined by Babar Azam, playing only his 13th game,  and the pair  put on 84 taking Pakistan past England’s total.  It was hard to see where a wicket was going to come from as Pakistan progressed.  England just weren’t bothering the batsmen at all.

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I’m feeling the need to note the number of balls faced as an indication of the manner of the batting, and on that note, Shafiq, a tiny, yet elegant batsman faced 100, making 59 before David Malan took a great catch from the bowling of Stokes.  The England bowlers had just been bowling far too many balls that the Pakistan batsmen could lift their bats to.  That’s not a new thing, without wanting to pick on one bowler, Stuart Broad literally drives me insane, he just doesn’t seem to bowl at the stumps!  That takes away 2 ways to get the batsman out and give them that bat lifting opportunity!

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At 203 for 4 Pakistan had a small lead, could they build on it?  Captain Sarfraz (or Sarfaraz) came in, he made what had pretty much been the only mistake of the innings so far, when he tried to sky a ball from Stokes, he was gone, a fairly difficult catch, but one Mark Wood took! (He didn’t face many balls at all!) Pakistan were 227 for 5 and England were working their way down the order.

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Shadab Khan was in next, 19 years old he was playing in only his 3rd test match, I’d had the pleasure of meeting both him and Hassan Ali at The Spitfire Ground in Canterbury, they were buying cake in The Lime Tree Cafe when I arrived at the ground, cue excited cricket fan and bewildered young cricketers!

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Shadab had a high score of 55, not bad for a newbie predominantly included for his bowling!  He and Babar looked like old hands as they frustrated England and contributed to the dropped catches for the day, I believe there were 5 or 6.  It was Stokes who struck again, and not in a good way for anyone!

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Babar fell to the ground in agony as a ball crashed into his arm at 85 MPH,  Shadab rushed to his side, but it seems to take an age for the medical  guy to arrive, it then took a while for Babar to leave the field, he’d made 68 (from 120 balls) and looked to be on for a big score, as again the bowlers weren’t bothering him.  Babar left and Faheem Ashraf entered the fray, this was only his second test match.

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So we had a grand total of 2 men with 3 test matches between them, they were great!  They put on 72 runs, this was batsman number 7 and 8!  The goings on from the standpoint of England were strange, the field placings didn’t seem to make sense, Michael Vaughan on TMS pointed out his close the slips were standing to each other and the fact that those in the slips seemed to keep changing.  Debutant Dom Bess who bowled well had several singles against hi that could’ve been avoided had Joe Root been fielding closer to the wicket.

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England took the new ball, but it was taken by Stokes, who to be fair had taken wickets and Broad from the Nursery End who hadn’t.  That was strange to say the least!  No Jimmy!  It’d been a very long day in the field for England and a long day sitting in seats for England fans as their team did little or nothing.  Finally Anderson did take the fairly new ball and lo and behold, he bowled Faheem, who’d made a fairly speedy 37 from 38 balls.  Pakistan were 318 for 6.

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Shadab was dropped then caught from the bowling of Stokes, he’d made a terrific 52 from 85 balls.  There wasn’t much batting left, Amir had joined Shadabd and he was joined by Abbas.  Abbas has a First Class average of around 7.  But he and Amir managed to hold out until 6:30 and the close of play.  Pakistan ended the day on 350 for 8, a lead of 166.

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It’s since transpired that poor Babar has a broken wrist, so England need a single wicket in the morning before they can try to save this test match.  They might like to look at how this inexperienced Pakistan side went about the batting malarkey!  I’d really like to be at Lords on Sunday!

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