Misbah leads from the Front

July 15, 2016 | By

It was a fascinating game of cricket on a historic day for UK. Britain today has a new Prime Minister – Theresa May becomes the second lady Prime Minister of UK after Margaret Thatcher.

While she was busy reshuffling her cabinet at 10 Downing Street there was a  test match at Lord’s in St John’s Wood. For cricket it was also historic because Pakistan were playing in England at Lord’s after almost half a decade; and also that Lord’s was staging back to back Test Matches (Sri Lanka followed by Pakistan) after a lapse of more than a century; and for Jake Ball (I wonder how many Jakes have played test cricket so far?) it was auspicious as he was making his test debut at this hallowed ground.

If some people were wondering why Jake Ball was awarded his England Test cap by the former England wicket keeper Bruce French the answer is the authorities thought it fit that Jake be capped by his uncle French. Everything was almost what one hopes for in a test match – the weather was sunny and though later on clouds did come but they were neither threatening nor rain bearing nor was there any stoppage in play.

The pitch though it had a tinge of green was good for batting and Misbah had no hesitation in winning the toss and electing to bat. Pakistan’s opening stand woes continued. Shan Masood survived a very near lbw on the 8th ball of the match and also a possible run out. Hafeez was put down by Vince in the slips when on 11 but always looked like getting out being unsure and aggressive.

A scratchy innings from Masood ended when Woakes claimed him and followed this up by getting Mohammad Hafeez. Azhar disappointed and never looked at ease; and Younis Khan slapped a half volley straight to mid wicket and Pakistan were tottering on 134/4 in the 44th over.

It was a familiar situation and only a responsible and mature partnership of 148 between Misbah and Asad Shafiq restored some parity and Pakistan clawed back to regain the advantage. The second new ball restored the balance for England when Asad Shafiq and nightwatchman Rahat Ali fell soon after the the second new ball was taken. Pakistan ended the day at 282/6 With Misbahul Haq not out 110.

Misbah at 42+ is perhaps the second oldest batsman to score a hundred at Lord’s since Warren Bardsley. I may be wrong but this is Misbah’s 10th test ton and all scored when batting at No 5. No praise is enough for the Pakistan skipper’s batting today. He was serenity, composure, confidence, dignity personified.

His defence was solid and defiant, his drives delicious, his cuts and glances delectable, his reverse sweeps perfect and productive. He along With Little Asad held the Pakistan innings together to steer the ship to a semblance of security.

Asad batted in his own quiet way; but did not spare the opportunity to punish the loose deliveries. His half century went almost unnoticed but that is how he always bats – no flamboyance only technique, timing and authority. His cutting was crisp, his flashes ferocious and his drives timed to perfection. He fully deserved his hundred but was a Little late in getting his bat out of a swinging deliveries path.

England’s fielding today not upto their usual standard – there were catches floored, run outs missed and more than usual runs conceded. Pakistan need Sarfraz, Wahab, and Amir to give full support tomorrow and aim for a total of 400. England would like to wrap up the innings ASAP; and get to the task of trying to build a substantial lead. Pakistan is playing three left-arm seamers (interesting) but the leggie Yasir Shah holds the key; he needs to come to the part and use any footmarks that may have been made the England pace bowling quartet.

Chishty Mujahid

Chishty Mujahid is an author at ScoreLine and has written numerous articles published at ScoreLine.org.

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