x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

England in command after Pakistan collapse

England reach 112 for two after bad light curtails play on day one of the second Test against Pakistan who were all out for 72.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND // England made the most of heavy cloud cover at Edgbaston to bowl Pakistan out for 72 on day one of the second Test. After their 80 all out at Trent Bridge six days ago, Pakistan were again in grave danger of collapsing to their lowest ever total when they lurched to 37 for six at lunch. In the end, they instead merely registered a new worst against England for the second time in under a week. Five of them never managed to spot one at all, including Imran Farhat and Azhar Ali, whose respective ducks took 24 and 32 balls. England's response was not without hiccups as the out-of-form Alastair Cook (17) was dismissed and quickly followed by opening partner Andrew Strauss (25) to leave England 44 for two. However, Andy Flower's side steadied themselves to reach the close on 112 for two, a lead of 40 runs. Kevin Pietersen was unbeaten on 36 and Jonathan Trott 31 not out when bad light forced a slightly early finish. Earlier, Stuart Broad and James Anderson both claimed four wickets to lead a rampant English seam and swing attack which ripped through the Pakistani batting order with ease in favourable bowling conditions. Steven Finn also picked up two wickets.

Pakistan, seeking to avenge their crushing 354-run loss in the first Test, reached 12 for two in 14 overs after choosing to bat, a decision that was contrary to what had been agreed in a team meeting, according to team sources. Farhat's arduous 31-minute struggle for no runs from 24 balls ended when his ultra-defensive approach was undone by a short ball which the opener edged to wicketkeeper Matt Prior off Broad.

It was clear the Pakistani batsmen, shot out for an all-time low against England of 80 on the final day of the first Test, were intent on playing more conservatively but they also invited pressure. When Salman Butt (7) played a leg glance off Anderson for a single to take the team to nine for one, it was the first run off the bat for 49 deliveries. Butt was equally defensive and succumbed after 40 balls, attempting a rare attacking shot which he edged to Graeme Swann at second slip off Finn.

Shoaib Malik drove his first ball firmly through cover three runs but he then edged an Anderson out-swinger to a diving Prior. Umar Akmal's (17) clip off his legs over square for six off a Broad half-volley was a rare moment of cheer for the Pakistani fans, spotted around a half-full Edgbaston undergoing major reconstruction. Azhar Ali put up a brave but ultimately long and fruitless struggle. He failed to score a run from his 32 balls, before being trapped lbw by a Broad delivery that swung into him and cut back.

Akmal was lbw to Finn though he would probably have been not out if he had used one of his team's two reviews as the ball struck him outside the line of off stump. Debutant Zulqarnain Haider edged his first ball in Test cricket to Prior off Broad as Pakistan limped to 37 for six at lunch. But their misery continued. Umar Amin and Mohammad Aamer provided some resistance in a 27-run partnership before Amin was caught by Paul Collingwood in the slips off Broad. Umar Gul's brief eight-ball innings came to an end as he found Pietersen off the bowling of Anderson for another duck. Anderson then quickly sliced through the tourists tail, first sending Aamer back to the pavilion for 12 when he found Cook in the field. Mohammad Asif (0) was the last man out, as Pietersen and Anderson combined again, leaving Saeed Ajmal not out on five. * Reuters