Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope and Harry Brook score centuries as England rack up 506-4 on astonishing day one of the first Test against Pakistan in Rawalpindi - watch day two live on Sky Sports Cricket on Friday (4.45am on air, 5am first ball)
Thursday 1 December 2022 17:36, UK
England's 'Bazball' brand of cricket blossomed on its first overseas outing as centuries from Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope and Harry Brook powered the tourists to a record-breaking 506-4 against Pakistan in Rawalpindi.
England became the first side to score 500 runs on the opening day of a Test, led by Crawley (122 off 111), Duckett (107 off 110), Pope (108 off 104) and Brook (101no off 81).
Crawley completed an 86-ball hundred, the fastest by an England opener in Test cricket, while opening partner Duckett notched a maiden ton from 105 in his first red-ball appearance for his country since 2016 as the pair put on 233 for the first wicket on a placid pitch after skipper Ben Stokes elected to bat.
Pope then reached three figures from 90 deliveries in the evening session before Brook - who shared a fourth-wicket stand of 176 with Pope - raced to a first Test century from 80 as the gloom began to descend, having pounded Pakistan spinner Saud Shakeel for six fours in an over a short while earlier.
At that point, Brook was on 84 from 64 balls and within sight of the fastest Test hundred by an Englishman but that remains Gilbert Jessop's 76-ball effort against Australia at The Kia Oval in 1902, with Brook's hundred the team's third quickest.
England did, though, canter past the most number of runs previously scored on a Test-match day in Pakistan - 417 - with the run rate across the 75 overs bowled a staggering 6.74.
The attacking style of cricket under head coach Brendon McCullum and captain Stokes that had yielded six wins out of seven during the home summer was in evidence as early as the 14-run first over, with Crawley striking three fours - one edged, two timed - off Pakistan quick Naseem Shah.
England made good on McCullum's pre-series vow that they would take their swashbuckling style on the road, with Crawley and Duckett's fifty-stand secured inside nine overs, their century salvo within 14 and the tourists taking lunch on 174-0, the most runs they have ever amassed in the first session, having struck 28 boundaries in 27 overs and gone at a rollicking run-rate of 6.44.
Pope and Brook, especially, continued the carnage, while skipper Stokes (34no off 15) thumped six fours and a six in a late cameo before bad light caused an early stoppage.
Pakistan have been hamstrung by the absence of key bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi due to appendicitis surgery and a right knee issue, with the hosts' inexperienced attack - featuring four debutants in spinners Shakeel and Zahid Mahmood and seamers Haris Rauf and Mohammad Ali - largely ineffectual and often inaccurate.
Runs of a different kind had flowed a day earlier for England with illness sweeping the camp - that led to talks over whether to push the start of the Test back to Friday, but Stokes' side announced on Thursday morning that they would be able to field a team, so the game went ahead as scheduled.
The only alteration to the XI England had named on Tuesday was Will Jacks for ill Surrey team-mate Ben Foakes - Jacks came in for his Test debut, alongside fellow red-ball new boy Liam Livingstone, while Pope was handed the wicketkeeping gloves in Foakes' absence.
Pope did not need to don his batting gloves until the 36th over as Crawley and Duckett dominated Pakistan in the opening stages of England's first Test in Pakistan since 2005, with tours having been shelved following the attack on Sri Lanka's team bus in Lahore in 2009.
Crawley drove and pulled his way to 21 boundaries, while Duckett - preferred to Keaton Jennings as Crawley's opening partner - swept, reverse swept and whipped 15 fours on his Test comeback.
Such was the speed of Crawley's run-scoring, he appeared on course to become the seventh man, and first Englishman, to score a century before lunch in the opening session of a Test.
The Kent batter ended up nine runs short of that mark at the interval but completed his third Test ton and second against Pakistan - after his mammoth 267 against them at The Ageas Bowl in 2020 - early in the second session, having overturned an lbw dismissal off Naseem on 99.
Duckett reached three figures as well but was then out lbw on review to debuting Pakistan leg-spinner Mahmood with DRS now back in full working order after an earlier breakdown - Duckett scuppered by technology shortly after Crawley had been saved by it.
There was no saving Crawley when Mahmood's fellow debutant Rauf reverse swung a fine delivery through the gate an over later as England slipped to 235-2 after losing both openers in the space of nine balls.
Those wickets did not trigger a collapse as Pope shared a half-century partnership with Joe Root (23) - who was eventually pinned lbw on the sweep by Mahmood - and then 176 with Brook, who has taken Jonny Bairstow's spot in the England side following his Yorkshire team-mate breaking his leg on a golf course.
Pope's third Test ton and Brook's maiden Test fifty were clinched in close proximity a little under an hour into the final session, with Brook tonking two of the three sixes England accrued on the day and then flogging Shakeel for six consecutive fours in the 68th over.
After Pope was out lbw on review to another debutant Ali, it was Stokes at the other end to watch Brook caress Naseem's delivery through mid-off and become the fourth man to a hundred on a remarkable day.
Stokes also had his fun on the featherbed of a surface, with one of his seven boundaries taking England past 500.
Watch day two of the first Test between Pakistan and England, in Rawalpindi, live on Sky Sports Cricket and Sky Sports Main Event on Friday. Build-up begins at 4.45am ahead of the first ball at 5am.