England face an uphill struggle to escape from the first Test against Pakistan with anything but a defeat following a new-ball display from the tourists that felt barely permissible before the watershed.
England were reduced to 12 for three 5.3 overs into their reply to Pakistan’s 326 all out and sat 92 for four by the close. Ollie Pope remains unbeaten on 46, with Jos Buttler 15 not out for company, but England head into day three 234 runs adrift.
Mohammad Abbas tormented the home side in an evening session that could scarcely have begun in worse fashion – following Shaheen Afridi’s fourth-ball removal of Rory Burns – by trapping Dom Sibley lbw for eight and then producing a beauty to bowl Ben Stokes for his first duck in 50 Test innings.
Yasir Shah then compounded matters for England when he had Joe Root caught behind on 14 to break a fire-fighting stand of 50 alongside the sprightly Pope.
A dry pitch that is already showing signs of good turn suggests the leg-spinner’s threat will only increase as the match goes deeper.
Misbah-ul-Haq, the Pakistan head coach, said: “Abbas has a very good reputation at international level, he has very good control and he can nip the ball of the seam both ways. Today he lived up to expectations.
“Shaheen is our standout bowler over the last few months and he bowled well, too.
“It’s crucial to take wickets with the new ball, especially when you are playing with just 326 runs on the board. Our bowlers have provided us with an advantage.”
For the second day running, England followed a promising morning with a sluggish afternoon as Shan Masood and Shadab Khan hustled a maddening sixth-wicket stand of 105 with the former bringing up his fourth Test century from 251 balls of obduracy before cutting loose en route to his eventual 156.
On Masood, who averaged 16 from three previous Tests against England, Misbah said: “It was an excellent performance, especially against that seam attack. He showed application and his hard work paid off.
“He is very committed and that showed in this innings. He has now proved himself in England. It’s not just a hundred but a big hundred. A hundred and we would have been in trouble but 150 was something special.”
Masood fell lbw to Stuart Broad in standout figures of three for 54, but had added 111 runs to his tally since Buttler missed a catch and then a stumping chance on the opening day.
Buttler’s woes off the bowling of Dom Bess continued when dropping a simple caught-behind off Yasir on five – a miss that, admittedly, did not prove costly – and to truly repay the faith of the selectors who handed him the gloves at the start of last winterruns from the wicketkeeper on day three would be timely.
Jofra Archer, who picked up three for 59 and found himself on a hat-trick at one stage, said: “I rate Jos very highly. He’s a really talented batter and there’s no doubt he and Popey can – I won’t say dig us out of a hole, because I don’t think we’re in one – but put on a big partnership and swing the momentum our way.”
This was the first time Archer had spoken to the media since his impressive first international summer for England and he was asked about the detour to Hove that meant he missed the second Test against West Indies due to a need to self-isolate for five days.
The 25-year-old revealed some struggles with the spotlight in a column for the Daily Mail following that breach of the biosecure protocols – as well as receiving racist abuse on social media – but he described himself as now feeling fine before adding: “That series is gone and I’m just glad to start this one with three wickets.”
Pakistan’s 17-year-old Naseem Shah was the quickest on show, touching 90mph to Archer’s speeds in the mid-80s. When asked about this on Sky, Archer said: “It’s not deliberate. It’s not every day you’re going to come in at 90mph.
“I’ve seen Shah started bowling 90mph so we’ll see how he goes on later on tomorrow morning or afternoon.
“No one is a robot, so I’ll be very, very interested to see what he can produce a bit later. This is not a wicket you’re really going to try to bend your back on. It’s spinning on day two so that says a lot.”