I travelled up to Leeds via the beautiful Belton House a much nicer place to stop than a service station! I’m staying in another Airbnb, this time a small basement apartment, with cooking facilities and a place to sit and write. My host, Aaron was kind enough to drop me off at Headingley on Day 1.
I made my way to my seat, with a new stand being built behind the bowlers arm I wasn’t in my preferred position but Block V of the East Stand is a pretty good view. Sarfraz won the toss and elected to bat, and for the second time the captain’s decision came back to bite his team.
England had 3 changes to the team that ‘played’ at Lords (I use that term loosely). An early notified change was Keaton Jennings in place of Mark Stoneman, Chris Woakes came in for Mark Wood and 19 year old Sam Curran replaced an injured Ben Stokes.
There had been calls from Michael Vaughan in particular to drop Stuart Broad, I had a conversation with a Scotland Cricket fan before the match started about Broad’s ability to play a blinder when he’s under fire.
And on this first morning he did just that. As always Broad and Jimmy Anderson opened the bowling and it was Broad who shone, he took the wickets of both openers, having had an LBW over turned for Imam, Broad had him caught by Root a couple of balls later, Pakistan were 1 for 1.
Azhar who is usually very self assured at the crease looked rattled on this humid, overcast morning and became Broad’s second wicket when he trapped him LBW for 2, that made Pakistan 17 for 2. A disaster was looming of similar proportions to that Pakistan inflicted on England at Lords!
Pakistan needed a partnership, England needed to keep the pressure on. Haris Sohail and Asad Shafiq made slow progress to 49, slow progress is all fine, but on 49 Sohail was caught by Malan for 28, from the bowling of Chris Woakes. After 5 dropped catches at Lords it was great to see the balls sticking!
Usman Salahuddin was next in, making his debut appearance for his country in his 100th First Class game, he replaced Babar Azam.
Another Woakes ball , another slips catch, this time by Cook saw Shafiq on his way back to the pavilion, he had 27, Pakistan just 62 for their 4 wickets lost. And Chris Wokaes had himself some fans in the West Stand, the lively stand. Who proved to be good entertainment from afar, they cheered loudly whenever Woakes went near, asking for everyone to stand ‘if you love Chris Woakes’ they picked one of England’s smiliest cricketers I imagine he loved it!
Young Sam Curran, 19 for a few more days, was given a few overs to give Broad a break, I was pleased to see him given the chance, not so pleased to hear him being written off by a Yorkshire lady behind me. Apparently he was only included because he plays for Surrey, maybe she hadn’t counted how many Northern players are in the England set up! It does annoy me when people who’ve likely never seen a player in action seem to want the to fail before they’ve started!
Captain Sarfraz had played the only poor shot at Lords in the entire Pakistan innings, he started off much better in this one, but all the same had only scored 14 when Jimmy Anderson came to the party, clean bowling him. New boy Salahuddin was trapped LBW by Broad in the next over and Pakistan had fallen to 78 for 6.
Faheem had scored good runs at Lords, but he wasn’t to be a hero today, Anderson got his second wicket in the next over, Faheem LBW for a duck and Pakistan 79 for 7.
Shadab playing in his 4th test was joined by Amir, the pair actually gave us some exciting batting to watch. The pair put on 34 with Amir scoring 13 including 2 Fours which had been scarce, but he knicked an Anderson ball to Bairstow and their partnership was over.
In came Hassan Ali another newcomer to test cricket, the pair played with some abandon putting on 43 very useful runs. Shadab, a mature 19 year old approached Hassan several times to probably tell him to calm things down a bit. Hassan made 24 from 16 balls including 5 fours but hit a ball straight back to Woakes giving him 3 wickets for the innings.
The number 11, Abbas came in, with an average of 5 he apparently has an average of 40 fish balls faced to get those runs. Shadab proved himself to be the best of the Pakistan batsmen on this day, making 56 vital runs from 52 balls. He became Sam Curran’s first England wicket when he hit a ball at Keaton Jennings and Pakistan were all out for 174. Amazing they got that high after being 79 for 7.
The weather had been very kind to England, with the sky being quite overcast for much of the Pakistan innings. The sun came out brightly as England came in to bat.
Alastair Cook was back with Keaton Jennings as his opening partner. I was unsure how Jennings would do, he has a very upright stance which seems to restrict his foot movement. But both he had cook started well against Amir and Abbas. In an interesting change, Jennings took his position up quite a way outside his crease when facing Abbas, taking away the likelihood of LBW. 40% of Abbas’s 40 international wickets have been LBW so this was a very good move!
Both openers played a patient innings, they didn’t chase any wide balls, we saw bats lifted to avoid them not swiped towards them and England were building a steady score. the bowlers really weren’t troubling either batsman.
Faheem got the first breakthrough with Jennings edging a ball to Sarfraz, he’d made 29 and England had an opening partnership of 53, something that hasn’t happened very often of late!
Joe Root joined Cook and again the pair looked comfortable at the crease, it’s a strange thing to say, but it was as good seeing Root play forward defensive shots as it was seeing him hit a four.
With around 10 minutes of the day left Pakistan got a huge boost as a Hassan Ball down the leg side to Cook was edged into the hands of Sarfraz, Cook was gone, for 46 and England were 104 for 2. Dome Bess came in as night watchman and the day finished a coupe of overs later with England on 106 for 2. The day had definitely belonged to the home team!