|Ground:||Kennington Oval, Kennington|
|Scorecard:||England v Pakistan|
|Player:||Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq, Younis Khan, ST Finn, CR Woakes|
|Event:||Pakistan in England and Ireland 2016|
By Andy Jalil at KIA Oval
Pakistan fight back to build lead in fourth Test
London Two brilliant centuries in Pakistans middle order enabled them to take a first innings lead to end the second days play on 340 for six in reply to Englands first innings of 328. Asad Shafiqs magnificent 109 spanning four hours, was his ninth Test hundred and along with Younis Khan he put on 150 for the fourth wicket. Younis remained unbeaten on 101, his 32nd Test century. With Azhar Ali missing a half century by just one run, the balance of the days play has been in favour of Pakistans batsmen.
They dug in for their task from the start of the days play trailing by 325 runs after resuming on 3 for one. The nightwatchman Yasir Shah stayed on for over an hour with his 26 runs helping to take the score to 52 before Steve Finn had him edging to Joe Root at second slip. He had been fortunate earlier when Alex Hales dropped a straightforward catch at gully off the bowling of Stuart Broad.
In a reshuffled batting order, Shafiq came in at number four, a position normally occupied by the experienced Younis. Pakistan needed to rebuild the innings and the two batsmen of much promise, Azhar and Shafiq settled into a cautious partnership. Despite being quite defensive earlier they were quick to pick the balls to score of with quick singles as well as the bigger shots for boundaries.
Shafiq had opened his account with a four off Finn and soon took two fours in an over off Chris Woakes who had been brought on in a double bowling change along with Finn. England might have taken his wicket in that same over but James Anderson, at third slip, missed a difficult chance. Englands catching had been just as poor as Pakistans in the England innings on the first day.
Azhar, on 35, shortly before lunch, which was taken on 97 for two, had given Finn a chance with a return catch which the lanky pace bowler could not hold despite getting both his hands to the ball. He had hit Finn for two fours in the over before being dropped. Azhar moved on to 44 with fours in consecutive overs off Broad and his last scoring shot was a waft over the slip cordon off Anderson which took him to 49.
Pakistans fourth wicket stand of 75 came to an end when Azhar, in attempting a sweep off Moeen Ali, gloved a catch to the wicketkeeper. Englands appeal for the catch had been turned down but their request for a review was successful. Shafiq at that stage was on 40, he had got to 39 when he came down the pitch to hit Moeen for six. He reached his 15th Test half century, from 75 balls, steering the off-spinning all-rounder to third man for his seventh four.
Shafiq formed another fine partnership with Younis with the fifty of the stand coming in 66 balls and while he played his shots freely, Younis was more watchful. Shafiq played two powerful cuts for four to point and backward point in an over from Finn taking his score to 69 and at tea, with him on 79, Younis on 26, in a stand worth 69 at that point, Pakistan were 196 for three, trailing by 132.
After the break both Shafiq and Younis sped along with the latter bringing up his fifty from 86 balls, having got to 48 with two fours in an over off Anderson and then ran two to cover. Shafiq progressed to 96 with a massive six of Moeen and then faced 17 balls on 99 before bringing up his hundred from 164 balls with 60 of those runs coming from boundaries. He finally fell to a fine catch at mid-wicket in attempting to pull a ball from Finn and Pakistan were 277 for four.
England took the second new ball and claimed two quick wickets. Woakes first had Misbah ul Haq edge to gully for 15 and four balls later he dismissed Iftikhar Ahmed for 4 with Moeen taking a running catch from mid-on and Pakistan were 320 for six. Younis and Sarfraz went on to add 20 by stumps.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
Copyright © 2016 Andy Jalil)