December 1, 2022
Four England batsmen scored hundreds on Thursday as the visitors piled up a record 506-4 on the opening day of the first Test against Pakistan in Rawalpindi.
Openers Zak Crawley (122) and Ben Duckett (107) set the tone with quick-fire tons against a hapless Pakistan bowling attack before Ollie Pope (108)and Harry Brook (101 not out) compounded their misery.
Ben Stokes was also not out, on 34, when bad light stopped play, having helped England break a 112-year-old record for the most runs on the first day of a Test — beating Australia’s 494-6 against South Africa at Sydney.
After winning the toss England went straight into “Bazball” mode, the brand of freewheeling, aggressive batting taken from the nickname of head coach Brendon McCullum.
England’s fiery batting — with 73 boundaries and three sixes — lifted the gloom over the start, which hung in the balance Wednesday after several of the tourists came down with a mystery virus.
As if the punishment from the top three wasn’t enough, Brook — playing only his second Test — cracked six consecutive boundaries off one over from debutant spinner Saud Shakeel.
He is only the fourth batsman to score six consecutive boundaries in a Test, following West Indians Chris Gayle and Ramnaresh Sarwan, and Sri Lanka’s Sanath Jayasuriya.
Brook reached his maiden century off just 80 balls, capping a highly entertaining day for a crowd of 6,000 that included around 150 “Barmy Army” fans.
Brook added 176 for the fourth wicket with Pope, who fell to pacer Mohammad Ali.
Pakistan had briefly fought back in the second session when they dismissed Duckett, Crawley and Joe Root (23) in the space of 53 runs, but that was shortlived.
Debutant leg-spinner Zahid Mahmood was the most successful Pakistan bowler with 2-160 on a pitch similar to the one used against Australia earlier this year.
That pitch was declared “below average” by the match referee after it yielded 1,187 runs for the loss of just 14 wickets over five days.
Duckett, who hit his maiden hundred after being recalled to the Test side following an absence of six years, was the first to go when he missed a reverse sweep off Mahmood and was trapped leg-before.
West Indian umpire Joel Wilson initially ruled it not out, only to change his decision on Pakistan’s review.
Duckett, who hit 15 boundaries, put on 233 for the first wicket with Crawley — an England record for the first wicket against Pakistan.
It beat the 1962 stand of 198 between openers Geoff Pullar and Bob Barber in Dhaka, then East Pakistan.
Crawley was bowled off a sharp incoming delivery by Haris Rauf in the next over, the Test debutant’s first wicket.
The lanky Crawley hit 21 boundaries in his quickfire 111-ball innings, his third Test hundred.
Former skipper Root also fell leg-before to Mahmood, unsuccessfully challenging the decision.
Crawley showed his intent right from the start, hitting three boundaries off Pakistan fast bowler Naseem Shah’s first over of the match, and bringing up his half-century off just 38 balls.
He could have become the first England batter to score a century before lunch on day one of a Test but was left nine short.
England are on their first Test tour to Pakistan in 17 years.
First Test commences as per schedule
Earlier, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announced that the match would be played as per the original schedule.
“The ECB (England Cricket Board) has informed the PCB that they are in a position to field an XI, and, as such, the first PAKvENG Test will commence as per schedule today (Thursday, 1 December) at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium,” the PCB said in an early morning tweet.
The commencement of the match today had become doubtful after several players in the England camp fell ill on Wednesday.
For today’s match, the touring side has made one change to their original playing 11, replacing Ben Foakes with Will Jacks, who makes his test debut along with all-rounder Liam Livingstone.
“We’ve had some illness going round but we were really excited to get started,” Stokes said after winning the toss. “It’s not been ideal obviously, to start our tour like this, but hopefully we’ll be fine.”
Pakistan have named four debutants — Saud Shakeel, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Ali and Zahid Mehmood — in their playing 11.
England and Pakistan will contest a three-Test series with the first match starting today (Dec 1-5), the second in Multan from Dec 9-13 and the third in Karachi from Dec 17-21.