January 25, 2023

England are undone by debutant spinner Abrar Ahmed as he takes SEVEN wickets, dismissing tourists for 281 in the first innings of the second Test against Pakistan

  • England reached 180 for five before lunch in their second Test against Pakistan
  • That impressive return surpasses the previous record of 174 in Rawalpindi
  • But spinner Abrar Ahmed, who made his debut for Pakistan, also took seven wickets
  • They were then undone after lunch, putting together a respectable total of 281

England were dismissed for 281 in the first innings of the second Test against Pakistan, with debutant bowler Abrar Ahmed taking seven wickets.

The batsmen had rattled once more the first morning in Multan – but kept tripping over Ahmed’s box of tricks.

By lunchtime they had reached 180 for five from 33 overs after Ben Stokes won another vital coin toss. They have never scored so heavily in the first session of a test, breaking the record of 174 in Rawalpindi – although Friday prayers meant the session lasted half an hour longer here.

There were fast half-centuries for Ben Duckett and Ollie Pope – and five wickets for Abrar, including Zak Crawley on his fifth ball as a Test cricketer.

Abrar Ahmed took five wickets in the first session of Pakistan's second Test with England

Abrar Ahmed took five wickets in the first session of Pakistan’s second Test with England

It was never dull and reviews abounded as England repeatedly swept and swept backwards on a field that offered far more corners than the Rawalpindi tarmac.

But the result was a score on the first day that you would normally expect with tea. Chasing many on this surface won’t be easy, so England can quietly be thankful they already have some points on the board.

After fears of smog delaying the start proved unfounded, England got off to another solid start against a Pakistani side with three changes from the team that lost the first test.

The injured fast-bowling duo of Haris Rauf and Naseem Shah went out, as well as veteran No. 3 Azhar Ali, who was fit, despite a finger injury in Rawalpindi.

Joe Root was one of the men sacked by Pakistan's debutant leg spinner in Rawalpindi

Joe Root was one of the men sacked by Pakistan’s debutant leg spinner in Rawalpindi

But England still hit 180 from 33 overs to set a new runs record in the first session

But England still hit 180 from 33 overs to set a new runs record in the first session

Entered all-rounder Faheem Ashraf, who opened the bowling for the first time in his Test career, left arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz, and Abrar – the bespectacled leg spinner who easily tops the wicket list in the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy, Pakistan’s first-class domestic fixture.

He was fast in the action. After Crawley and Duckett milked 36 times in eight overs, Abrar fired one from the front of his hand through Crawley’s gate. It wasn’t a broken leg, but it wasn’t googly either, and the map of England was highlighted.

Neither she nor Abrar retreated. Pope got lbw for 11 for missing a reverse sweep against Zahid Mahmood only for replays to show he had gloved it. And Duckett, after raising half a century on 40 balls, similarly survived against Abrar on 61.

But he didn’t get much further. With the total at 117, Duckett missed a conventional sweep, and this time Aleem didn’t call Dar out. Pakistan rated: three red. Would the game change?

Abrar has kept Pakistan in the game by sending five off, preparing things well for after lunch

Abrar has kept Pakistan in the game by sending five off, preparing things well for after lunch

England advanced to 145 for the next assessment, by Abrar against Joe Root after Dar again said no. Again, Pakistan was vindicated. A broken leg was thrown onto a leg stump and hit Root’s back foot defensive goad. DRS had brought it to a head, which led to cheers among the field players. Root made eight.

Three wickets down would have been an acceptable return for England given the pace at which they had scored. But Abrar was not done yet. Pope, who had reached a run-a-ball 60, dropped a reverse sweep, which softly ballooned to Abdullah Shafique on a backward point. And in Abrar’s next over, Harry Brook – one of Rawalpindi’s stars – made a wrong choice for a skyer halfway.

Ahmed would take his tally to seven wickets by sending off Ben Stokes and Will Jacks, before Jack Leach, Ollie Robinson and James Anderson were cleared by Zahir Mahmood.

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