Monday 18 December 2017

Cricket: Riaz punishes England with five-wicket debut

Derek Pringle

It was England's turn to have their batsmen examined by swing and seam bowling yesterday and, but for Matt Prior and Stuart Broad, the results might have been as pitiful as Pakistan's in the previous two Tests.

England eventually sputtered on to 233, after Wahab Riaz took five for 63 on debut, but that was well below par for the conditions after Pakistan finished the day 48-1.

Prior was England's saviour after an unbeaten 84. He and Broad, who made 48, added 119 for the eighth wicket, as England struggled to post a competitive total. Eventually their alliance was ended by Riaz, whose performance here must rank as one of the better Test debuts by a bowler, left-arm or otherwise.

Riaz (25) combined accuracy and aggression with clever changes of pace, like the slower ball that had Broad lbw. Unlike the two Mohammads, Asif and Amir, he didn't really swing the ball, merely probing a good length in the channel outside off-stump, a seemingly lethal cocktail against batsmen intent in getting bat on ball at all cost.


His first scalp, after Asif had despatched a jittery Alastair Cook with one that the left-hander felt for outside off-stump, was Andrew Strauss, England's skipper. Strauss tried to withdraw his bat after Riaz found some extra bounce outside off-stump but having failed to do that he then decided to test Pakistan's resolve over calling for the review, after umpire Tony Hill had failed to give him out. It was a clear edge, though, and the technology condemned him.

Jonathon Trott followed his leader five runs later, a loose-edged drive that was brilliantly caught by Yasir Hameed as he flung himself sideways at second slip. Trott would probably have got away with it previously, so woeful has Pakistan's fielding been, but Yasir was one of four changes the visitors made to their side and, apart from Mohammad Yousuf's dolly drop near the end, the improvements were substantial.

Even Kamran Akmal had a decent day behind the stumps, his only mistake to drop a difficult inside edge off Prior when the batsman was on 29.

Kevin Pietersen tried to play the waiting game in the hope an ageing ball might have made for easier pickings. But patience is not a virtue that comes naturally to modern Test batsmen and, after seeing Paul Collingwood guilty of dangling a diagonal bat when he was bowled by Amir off an inside edge, he did the same thing to one angled across him and was caught behind.

Eoin Morgan decided to counter-attack but he did not look as convincing as he did doing it at Trent Bridge. Nevertheless, it was a decent ball from Riaz -- which bounced and left him a touch -- that did for him, and not every batsman could claim that.

At 74-6 England could have folded as Pakistan had done in the previous Tests but Prior had other ideas and, with Broad, set about a revival which ended when the latter became Riaz's fifth victim, and with James Anderson and Steve Finn unable to hang, Prior was denied a deserved fourth Test hundred before Anderson chipped in with the breakthrough to give England some hope. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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