SPORTS – Pakistan beat England at Lord’s
England were denied an unlikely Lord’s victory by Pakistan as the tourists completed a 75-run win in a thrilling first Test.
Chasing 283 to win on the fourth day, Alastair Cook’s side were undone by some inspired bowling.
Jonny Bairstow (48), Gary Ballance (43) and James Vince (42) had given the hosts faint hope.
However, spinner Yasir Shah again ripped through England’s line-up to finish with 10 wickets in the match.
Victory was sealed by Mohammad Amir, who was returning to Test cricket after serving a ban for spot-fixing during Pakistan’s tour of England in 2010.
He shattered debutant Jake Ball’s stumps and embarked on a joyous celebration which culminated in the entire Pakistan team doing military-style press-ups and a salute.
Such colourful celebrations – 42-year-old skipper Misbah-ul-Haq marked his day one century with press-ups of his own – are becoming a common theme.
So too are victories, with Pakistan losing just one Test series since 2013 while they have won six of their last seven five-day encounters with England.
Their bowling attack was too powerful in both innings of this Test match, with their three left-arm quicks – Rahat Ali, Wahab Riaz and Amir – offering perfect support to leg-spinner Yasir.
Rahat removed England’s top three on the fourth day – bowling a particularly impressive delivery to find skipper Cook’s outside edge – while Yasir’s tricks and variations brought him a further four wickets.
Amir finished the job with two electric deliveries which destroyed the stumps of Stuart Broad and Ball, but perhaps the best spell of the afternoon was bowled by the unlucky Wahab.
Consistently bowling at speeds of 90mph, he intimidated England’s batsmen with short deliveries and tested them with late swing. His reward was the solitary wicket of James Vince, caught driving at slip.
That England came so close – they rallied from 139-6 to 195-6 – was down to the fighting qualities of wicketkeeper Bairstow and all-rounder Chris Woakes.
Bairstow top-scored in the second innings with a composed and clever knock which, while not without luck, underlined why he has scored 225 more runs than any other Test batsman in world cricket this year.
He was almost in tears as he trudged off, his 206-minute innings ended when he misjudged an innocuous delivery from Yasir and was bowled.
Bairstow’s defiance was in contrast to some of England’s top-order batsmen who will rue the shots which led to their dismissals.
Alex Hales and Vince were caught in the slips playing at full deliveries while Joe Root was out in disappointing fashion for the second time in the match.
The Yorkshireman, whose tame dismissal in the first innings precipitated a collapse, pulled a short ball straight to Yasir at deep square leg.
Speaking on Test Match Special, former England batsman Geoffrey Boycott said: “I do understand that they grow up playing so much 50-over cricket, that it’s not easy. But you look at some of the shots they played, it’s like one-day shots.”
The second Test begins at Old Trafford on Friday.