The home season for England began on a rather disappointing note as the side lost by 9 wickets against a rejuvenated Pakistan side in less than three and a half days. Unable to put on a spirited show with either bat or ball, the Joe Root-led side failed to challenge the visitors in either department and lost the Lord’s game with ease.
We list down the 5 talking points from the game that gave the Sarfaraz Ahmed-led side a 1-0 lead in the 2 match series. The second Test is at Headingley, Leeds from 1st June.
The woes continue in the longer format for England
The English team are facing their worst phases, having gone 8 games without a win, losing 6 of the last 8 that they have played. While their struggles had been heightened abroad, the English team still remained as dominant at home with the likes of James Anderson and Stuart Board threatening to bounce out the rivals in the comforts of their home conditions. However, the loss against Pakistan only displayed the glaring weaknesses in their squad and the presence of the senior stalwarts in the squad has once again become the topic of much debate.
The poor form of the English openers continue
Ever since Andrew Strauss retired in 2012, the English side have tried 13 openers at the top, with none of them contributing much to seal their spot. With an average of 34.72 in 72 matches since then, the top 2 has been England’s, Achilles Heel. Mark Stoneman, who had scored a fifty in New Zealand held onto his spot for the series against Pakistan but only 13 runs in the two innings meant that he might not find a place against India. Alastair Cook, who was coming off an indifferent form in the Ashes and then against New Zealand did put on 70 in the first innings, but with Stoneman unable to make a mark, England’s woes are far from over.
Hasan Ali and Mohammad Abbas combine with Mohammad Amir to form a menacing trio
The Pakistan team has always boasted of world-class seamers but there were questions galore before the Test began. While Amir was entering the match with a 5-wicket haul against Ireland, Ali had taken just 6 wickets in 2 matches and Abbas had 32 in 6 games. On the first innings especially, the bowling was nothing short than spectacular, with the latter two bowlers constantly bouncing out their rivals. Ali picked up 4/51 in the first innings and even though he was wicketless in the second, it was senior pro-Amir who came to the rescue in the second, with a four-wicket haul. However, it was Abbas who impressed the most, picking up a match haul of 8 wickets to once again reinforce the dominance of the Pakistan attack.
Dropped catches go on to haunt the home side
It is a well-known fact that catches win matches and hence, with five dropped catches in the first innings, England were always on the back-foot for the game, thereafter. Cook dropped 2 catches at first slip and then in another instance saw a chance fly away between himself and the wicketkeeper. He dropped Babar Azam first and then let go of an easy catch of Faheem Ashraf. An over later, he dropped Shadab Khan with Anderson bearing yet another missed opportunity.
The other two catch was let down by Jos Buttler and when Jonny Bairstow was asked about the situation, in came the prompt reply. “It’s not from practice. You will have seen how much we have done. If you can put your finger on it, you are welcome to join us in practice. It happens, doesn’t it? It’s part and parcel of cricket. You can look into it as much as you wish or make up whatever ideas you want.”
However, it is no secret that the match would have been closer had the catches been held and other than improving on the bowling and the batting, the ground fielding needs serious improvements as well.
The successful return of Buttler and the welcome of Dom Bess
With England struggling at 110 for 6 in the second innings and still trailing Pakistan, it needed a Herculean effort from the home team to make Pakistan bat again. However, Buttler who was returning to the team at the back of impressive IPL performances showed that formats matter for little when confidence is in full-swing, gritted it out for 67 in 138 balls. He aptly aided debutant Dominic Bess who went wicketless in his first encounter but delayed the inevitable by putting on 57 from 106 balls. He and Buttler put on a 126 for the seventh wicket and if they had the support of the other members, the result could have been closer, and the match more exciting.