Debutant Abrar Abrar claimed 7-114 as England - after electing to bat - were bowled out for 281; Pakistan closed on 107-2, with captain Babar Azam unbeaten on 61; Watch day two live on Saturday from 4.45am on Sky Sports Cricket
Friday 9 December 2022 14:09, UK
Ben Duckett insists England are happy with their opening-day display in the second Test against Pakistan, despite Abrar Ahmed ripping apart the tourists’ batting line-up in Multan.
England were bowled out for 281 inside the opening two sessions after electing to bat first, with Abrar - making his Test debut - taking the first seven wickets on his way to stunning figures of 7-114.
Pakistan reached 107-2 in reply and still trailed but 174 runs when play was halted for bad light, with captain Babar Azam unbeaten on 61 and Saud Shakeel 32 not out, although Duckett believes the contest is delicately-poised heading into the second day.
"I'd say it's level at the minute," Duckett said. "We're a couple of quick wickets away from it being our day, so we'll have to see in the morning. I think we're pretty happy overall.
"Obviously today was about assessing those conditions early and as soon as the seamers bowled that slower ball, it was clear it was going to spin.
"I think the game is going to move forward pretty quick, so if we can keep them to around our score, anything less is a bonus, then it should be really hard work in the fourth innings."
Duckett admitted England did not have much analysis of Abrar, who has played just 14 first-class matches, but believes his success was down to a skilful performance rather than an impenetrable method.
"There was limited footage, mainly of him bowling in the nets here, and not much to left-handers," Duckett added. "He was basically a leg-spinner and he has a good googly.
"There was no real mystery to it. But he bowled beautifully today. I'm sure we'll have our plans to him second innings and I'm pretty sure we won't be blocking it. Most of the guys said they did pick it, he just bowled some nice deliveries. Unfortunately for us, it was his day."
Abrar was especially pleased to have claimed the wickets of both Stokes and former captain Joe Root.
"I can't describe my feelings in words," he said.
"It's great to have achieved what I had set out for. Before the match I had said in an interview that Joe Root and Ben Stokes will be challenging so it's great to have the wickets of both.
"My team-mates were telling me that it's always the first Test wicket that you cherish but for me Stokes's wicket was the best. He is a very good batter, an attacking one.
"Initially I was a mystery spinner but now I bowl leg spin more.
"I used a lot of tricks, changing my grip and using the crease. My varieties help me."
England reached 180-5 at lunch, the highest total ever recorded in the opening session of the Test match, although the tourists were still bowled out inside 52 overs despite half-centuries from Duckett and Ollie Pope.
Ben Stokes' side didn't deviate from the attacking style of cricket that helped them win the first Test in dramatic fashion in Rawalpindi, although former England international Mark Butcher debated whether that was the right decision.
"When you get off to such a flying start and when you are so clearly in the ascendency of the game, does there come a point where the approach maybe changes?" Butcher told Sky Sports. "You go, 'you know what, we are in a good enough position here', someone makes 100 to maybe put 400 on the board and put the game really in our favour.
"What has happened is they have made 280 being hyper-aggressive and have done it so, so quickly that the pitch is still playing as well as it might have done if they had not won the toss. The advantage of having won the toss and having the best time to bat has almost been nullified.
"Pakistan are massively in the game, it is one of the beauties of playing the way Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum are playing. Not from the point of an England fan where you want them to win and to put the game to bed without giving the opposition a sniff.
"It kind of means that both teams are always in with a shout of being in the game, which means it moves along at a rapid old rate and we have quite a lot of fun watching it.
"It will give a few people kittens if you keep doing that and allowing the opposition the opportunity to get as good a use of the conditions as you did, having won what we think is going to be an important toss."
Watch day two of the second Test between Pakistan and England, in Multan, live on Sky Sports Cricket and Sky Sports Main Event on Saturday. Build-up begins at 4.45am, ahead of the first ball at 5am.