Pakistan’s day at Edgbaston
Seamer Sohail Khan claimed his maiden five-for on his return to Test cricket after a five-year absence as England battled to 297 all out on day one of the third Test, at Edgbaston today.
The 32-year-old, who had taken just one scalp in his previous two Tests at a cost of 245 runs, picked up the wicket of Joe Root (three) in figures of 5-96 as England were forced to scrap in their 500th home Test.
Fifties from Gary Ballance (70) and Moeen Ali (63) rallied the hosts from 75-3 and 158-5 to leave the Test – and series, currently locked at 1-1 – tantalisingly poised.
Sohail’s inclusion was one of two changes made by Pakistan to the side that lost at Old Trafford – the right-armer coming in for Wahab Riaz, while Sami Aslam replaced out-of-form opener Shan Masood.
Under leaden skies, Misbah-ul-Haq opted to bowl first upon winning the toss and initially England made solid progress – Alastair Cook (45) and Alex Hales (17) putting on 36 at close to four-an-over.
Sohail found sufficient movement to trouble both batsmen and deserved a breakthrough in his fifth over, when Hales nicked through just when he’d got a start.
Root could not repeat the imperious form that brought him 325 runs at Old Trafford and departed soon afterwards, edging behind as he attempted to force off the back foot.
Cook battled on against the seam movement on offer, scoring his runs at nearly a run-a-ball, until he fell within sight of a half-century – trapped lbw by a Rahat Ali delivery that struck him just in line.
Nevertheless it was honours even at lunch, which England took on 100-3, and thereafter James Vince (39) and Ballance improved their stand to 69.
Vince appeared on course to eclipse his Test best of 42 and perhaps press on for his first Test fifty when second slip Younus Khan managed to squeeze his fingers under a sharp chance, the third umpire ruling the oppo rtunity off Sohail had carried.
Sohail grabbed his fourth scalp when Jonny Bairstow (12), fresh from launching Yasir Shah down the ground, attempted to cut a wide delivery and snicked through.
The burden of carrying the innings fell on Ballance, who prodded nervously at a Mohammad Amir ball angled across him on 49 before completing his first half-century in seven Test innings with a single off Yasir shortly after tea.
Restored to the England side at the start of the series after a year out of Test cricket, Ballance scored the most recent of his four Test tons against West Indies in April 2015.
A fifth seemed within his grasp until he stretched too far across his stumps and tickled a catch off Yasir’s bowling down the leg-side.
The spinner was convinced he had another wicket when Moeen – on 44 at the time – was given out caught at short leg while sweeping, only for umpire Bruce Oxenford’s decision to be overturned on review.
Moeen duly brought up his sixth fifty in 29 Tests by crunching his 99th ball in front of square for four as Rahat dropped short.
Sohail came within a whisker of claiming his maiden five-for as Steve Finn, back in the side for Ben Stokes, survived a tight lbw shout after Stuart Broad had slashed the first delivery with the new ball from Mohammad Amir to Azhar at slip.
Moeen’s restrained knock, which featured seven fours, ended when he drove rather casually at Amir and Sohail did indeed have his five-for when James Anderson was trapped lbw, the bowler celebrating with clap press-ups after missing Pakistan’s themed celebration at Lord’s.