LONDON – Pakistan again showed England how to play in their own conditions in the first Test at Lord’s on Friday before suffering a blow when Babar Azam was ruled out of the remainder of this two-Test series with a wrist injury.
The tourists scored 300 runs in Friday’s play, going from an overnight 50/1 to 350/8 at stumps on the second day.
That left them already 166 runs ahead of England’s meagre first-innings 184.
But several hours after stumps, Pakistan found out Babar would play no further part after being injured while top-scoring with 68 on Friday.
The 23-year-old batsman had to retire hurt after being struck on the wrist by pace bowling all-rounder Ben Stokes.
Babar was taken to a hospital for a scan which confirmed he would not be able to get back on the field at Lord’s or indeed take part in next week’s second Test at Headingley.
“We took him for a precautionary X-ray which unfortunately confirmed a fractured left wrist,” said Pakistan physiotherapist Cliff Deacon.
“It normally takes four to six weeks to heal, so we will assess him with further X-rays.”
The Pakistan Cricket Board added it had no intention to add a replacement batsman to the tour squad.
Earlier, a quartet of Pakistan batsmen made 50s, with England dropping four catches on Friday and missing one other obvious chance.
There had been hopes a return home would boost Joe Root’s men following their recent series losses in Australia and New Zealand.
But after two days at the ‘home of cricket’, England were struggling to avoid a sixth defeat in eight Tests.
Experienced opener Azhar Ali laid the platform for Pakistan’s reply with a well-made 50.
Asad Shafiq (59) and Babar kept the runs coming, before Shadab Khan (52) hit his second half-century in three Tests.
Their efforts followed on from the disciplined and skilled bowling of Pakistan pacemen Mohammad Abbas and Hasan Ali, who took four wickets apiece on Thursday.
Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur, speaking before Babar was ruled out, praised his side’s display, but warned there was much still to be done if they were to go 1-0 up in the series.
“We’ve had two good days and we’ll enjoy them, but we’ve got a hell of a lot of work still to do,” he told Sky Sports.
“If we can get another 25 on top of that and do exactly what we did in the first innings – bowl in the right areas and apply some pressure – then we’ve got a really good chance.”
Meanwhile, England paceman Mark Wood accepted Pakistan were on top, saying: “So far, they’ve out-bowled and out-batted us.”