Azhar Ali, Fakhar Zaman lead way against modest attack

Pakistanis 321 for 9 (Azhar 73, Zaman 71, Salahuddin 69*) v Leicestershire. If Pakistan are to win a Test collection in England for the first time in extra than two decades, it seems likely Azhar Ali will want to lead the way with the bat. Without some of those familiar names of recent times – the likes of Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq, who each averaged in excess of forty as Pakistan drew right here in 2016 – it will in reality be incumbent upon Azhar to try to substitute their runs and grant a steadying impact to a relatively inexperienced batting order. Now aged 33, and with three centuries and three half-centuries from his preceding eight Tests, a whole lot is predicted of him.

So it would have been encouraging to see him some shape on the first day of this two-day, non-first-class match in Leicester. After a modest begin to the tour – he has a top-score of 15 after five pleasant innings – he regarded supremely cozy here in cruising to an untroubled seventy three On a gradual pitch the place run-scoring opportunities had been now not mainly plentiful, he noticed off the new ball patiently and put away something quick or over-pitched except fuss. Bringing up his half-century from 83 balls with his 10th 4 – a top notch cowl force that would have made Younis proud – he posted 121 for the first wicket with Fakhar Zaman.

There is a caveat. Leicestershire are no longer the strongest of the pleasant counties – they completed backside of Division Two of the County Championship in 2017 barring a single win – and this was, effectively, their 2nd XI. Only two of those concerned here – Lewis Hill and Ateeq Javid – played in their last Championship healthy – a victory, to be fair – and only one other member of this aspect (Dieter Klein) has featured in the Championship this season. If England had been introduced with such opposition right now in advance of a Test series distant places there would be moans and they would no longer be completely unjustified.

That having been said, there are some decent gamers involved. Klein, a left-arm seamer who features skiddy tempo from a quick arm, produced the ball of the day to account for Sami Aslam – pitching on line, it held its personal to beat the outside area and take the off stump – and later ended Azhar’s innings. Attempting to cut, Azhar looked aghast when a thick under-edge added the ball crashing into his very own off-stump.

Zak Chappell would have strengthened the assault significantly, however sustained a shoulder injury simply beforehand of the sport as he tried to help his mother with some buying bags. Which does as an alternative beg the question: what had she bought and how strong is she? It is hoped he may also be suit to return as early as mid-week.

Pakistan made a few changes, too. Identifying this game as a rare possibility to permit some of their squad a game, they rested 5 possibly contributors of their Test side, with Mohammad Amir reserved for quick bowls at intervals and earlier than play on a pitch on the facet of the square.

Usman Salahuddin took his threat to provoke with a affected person half-century but Saad Ali let his frustration get the higher of him and used to be caught and bowled as he tried to make some development in opposition to the spinners. Sarfraz Ahmed also fell in aggressive fashion: trying to repeat a slog-swept six from the preceding ball, he talented a trap to mid-on.

Zaman was once nearly as fantastic as Azhar in that opening stand. Having played himself in with incredible persistence – his first 75 deliveries realised a modest 34 runs – he then started to unfurl the attacking strokes that will be so familiar to those who noticed him in England last year. Richard Jones, a seam bowler of some experience, was thrashed for six boundaries in an over and seven in 10 balls at one stage as Zaman, who struck six of them, made a late – and possibly vain – bid for a Test place. He subsequently fell to a seize to midwicket attempting to thrash one into the Rutland countryside.

Impatience price Faheem Ashraf, who was caught at cover, and Mohammad Abbas, caught at mid-on, and left Leicestershire’s spinners, Javid and Aadil Ali – guys with six first-rate wickets between them – boasting figures of four for 70 from 20.5 overs. It was a beautiful adequate way to spend a stunning summer’s day, but you do surprise if it’s like getting ready for an Artic hike by using nipping for an ice-cream.

Day 2 Report
Leicestershire 226 for 6 (Javid 54 ) drew with Pakistanis 321 for 9 (Azhar 73, Zaman 71, Salahuddin 69*) through 95 runs. As Pakistan laboured to work their way through a second string Leicestershire line-up, it was challenging to be vastly positive of their probabilities in the Test series in opposition to England.

After all, there assault right here featured four of the front-line bowlers they are anticipated to subject at Lord’s. Yet in this predictable two-day draw they have been thwarted for plenty of the day via a man, Ateeq Javid, who has no longer scored a first-rate 50 for more than 4 years. And that, in April 2014, used to be towards Oxford MCCU.

The exact news from Pakistan’s standpoint is they are assured Mohammad Amir will be in shape to play at Lord’s. After sustaining a knee injury in Ireland there had been some concern over his fitness. But he bowled at something approaching full pace on the facet of the square at some point of the lunch ruin and said no considerable issues afterwards.

His addition provides drastically to this attack however this was once a reminder of the reliance this Pakistan aspect have upon his not specially huge shoulders.

Pakistan’s hope is that, as section of a five-man attack, the burden on Amir may additionally be reduced. And it is true that in Faheem Ashraf, a seam-bowling all-rounder who gives the ball a right thrash, they have the sort of exciting all-round cricketer who gives some balance to the side.

Faheem was once one of the extra spectacular of their bowlers in this game. Although he didn’t take a wicket, he generated first rate tempo and caught Javid a fearsome blow to the helmet with a skiddy bouncer. His manage was once impressive, too.

Of his colleagues, Mohammad Abbas was once frugal (until Tom Taylor thrashed him for four boundaries in the ultimate over of the game) although not especially threatening and Hassan Ali, so adept at gaining motion with a Kookaburra ball that confounds most bowlers, struggled to gain any motion from a Duke’s ball that delights most.

Rahat Ali was once a little unfortunate. Probably the quickest of the attack, he saw a few edges fly thru the slips – an problem that may come to be a thing of the next few weeks – and might have taken a couple of wickets in a probing opening spell that was resolutely seen off by way of the stubborn Harry Dearden.

Shadab Khan, meanwhile, claimed the wicket of Sam Evans with one that skidded on and Lewis Hill with one the batsman slogged to mid-off, but also delivered a couple of head-high full-tosses. The feedback from the Leicestershire batsmen – hardly the most experienced batsmen on the circuit – was that he was pretty effortless to pick. Suffice to say if Pakistan ever need to name upon Fakhar Zaman’s bowling in a Test, they are in a bit of trouble.

He claimed a wicket here, though. Aadil Ali, coming down the pitch to a very extensive delivery, used to be stumped by Adeel Shafique – a former MCC Young Cricketer who was once drafted in as their keeper for most of the afternoon as Sarfraz took the opportunity to put his ft up.

Shafique, a former Nottinghamshire 2d XI player, is now not affiliated with the Pakistan squad and was once found at quick be aware with the aid of Leicestershire. It remains quite uncertain who would stand-in for Sarfraz should he sustain an injury all through a Test.

The man who enjoyed the day the most was in all likelihood Javid. Once notion of as a highly promising participant at Warwickshire, he misplaced his way a little after struggling for opportunities in the back of the likes of Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott. After a affected person start to this innings, he unveiled some desirable strokes and, having secured a self belief boosting half-century, retired out.

Earlier Dearden, a batsman who seems to be geared up to negate properly bowling however has no thinking what to do towards loose balls, carved a filthy huge transport to point, whilst later Tom Wells nicked off as he drove at a huge one.

So it appears Pakistan will stick to the identical XI at Lord’s that won them the Test in Dublin. They have now not been mainly magnificent in their three warm-up suits against Division Two opposition but, as we have been reminded so often, it will pay to never dismiss their chances. It’s no longer so long ago they went to No. 1 in the Test rankings and received the Champions Trophy towards the odds in England.

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