Pakistan 357 for 7 (Shafiq 135*, Sohail 79, Keogh 3-83) lead Northamptonshire 259 (Rossington 90, Shadab 6-77) via 98 runs. After so little great cricket in the previous 12 months, batting practise is what Pakistan are most in need of earlier than the opening Test of their UK tour that starts offevolved on Friday. They were surpassed a perfect danger on a golden second day in Northampton and Asad Shafiq took gain of the stipulations – as properly as two dropped catches – to make his twentieth pleasant century and hand his facet a full-size lead by means of the close.
Shafiq has now not only the second-highest variety of Test caps in the Pakistan squad however has played greater nice cricket than most of the journeying birthday celebration in latest months. By whole contrast, earlier than remaining week’s suit at Kent, Haris Sohail’s closing home great in shape was all the way again in 2014. The pair shared a stand of 136 for the 0.33 wicket to set the day up for their side.
As guidance for the Test fits to come, this has been a true project for the tourists and they have been stored in take a look at for two-thirds of the day. Northamptonshire took two early wickets and had Shafiq been held by means of Ricardo Vasconcelos in the gully on simply thirteen – a sitter straight to the fielder at chest top – Pakistan would have been 70 for three and three of their pinnacle order left with successive screw ups to begin the tour.
But the partnership progressively constructed either side of lunch. Sohail, despite – or possibly due to the fact of – his recent experience being nearly completely in opposition to the white-ball, used to be originally the greater fluent of the pair. He began with a back-foot punch and a front-foot power through more cowl before skipping down to Rob Keogh’s off spin to elevate any other boundary over mid-off. And after being struck a nasty blow on the neck ducking a Gareth Wade short ball that didn’t get up, he went via to fifty in 107 balls with seven fours.
A century loomed for Sohail but he produced a main area to point trying to flick Keogh over midwicket in opposition to the spin. Steven Crook took a clever diving catch and ought to have taken Shafiq’s top-edged sweep diving in the contrary path next ball. But the second danger Shafiq offered went down and he was once left to dominate the day.
Shafiq made 363 runs at 30 in Pakistan’s Quaid-e-Azam Trophy closing season except a century but here took his chance to reach three figures. He slog swept his second six off Keogh before clipping the identical bowler to long-on to elevate fifty in ninety eight balls. A steer behind point moved Pakistan into the lead shortly after tea earlier than a great sweep delivered up his century, Pakistan’s first of the tour.
Later, just when Northants had ambitions to restrict the deficit after three wickets with the second new ball, Shafiq took three boundaries in an over off Wade with a leg glance, a fierce pull and an uppercut over cover.
But the innings of the day belonged to Babar Azam, who breathed existence into a sleepy afternoon with a bright, punchy 57 Azam already has seven ODI centuries and should become one world batting’s stars. Three of his first four scoring strokes had been boundaries and as he reduce Luke Procter vast of third man to elevate fifty in just sixty one balls with six fours, the day started out to drift from Northants. 143 runs came in 33 overs after tea as the lead approached three figures and Pakistan carried out the solid batting day they had hoped for.
It did not appear that would necessarily be the case as each opening batsman failed. Imam-ul-Haq, having scratched around for 60 deliveries for solely 11 runs, was once crushed on the inside side through Keogh to be trapped lbw and Azhar Ali, the most experienced member of the Pakistan squad, fell lbw to Wade. The wicket was just Wade’s 2d in satisfactory matches having neglected the majority of last season with a stress fracture of the back. He stated he loved the task of bowling to a high-class batting line up but it used to be a assignment correctly met through Shafiq, Sohail and Babar.