Pak vs Eng: Azhar Ali fit to bat in Rawalpindi Test, says PCB

Sports Desk
December 05, 2022

Pakistan need another 263 to win first Test while England need to take eight wickets

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Pakistan's Azhar Ali (L) back to pavilion after an injury during the fourth day of the first cricket Test match between Pakistan and England at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium, in Rawalpindi on December 4, 2022. -AFP

RAWALPINDI: Right-handed batter Azhar Ali has recovered from the injury he suffered on the fourth day of the opening Test between Pakistan and England and is fit to play, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said Monday.

Azhar Ali was hit on the tip of his right index finger in the fifth over of the second innings on Sunday and left the field for further medical treatment.

“The right-handed batter is fit to bat,” the PCB said in an update.

Pakistan need another 263 to beat England in Test

The visitors made a bold decision Sunday when they declared and set a target of 343 in four sessions for Pakistan to win the first Test.

However, Pakistan lost Abdullah Shafique (six) and skipper Babar Azam (four) in their second innings before Imam-ul-Haq (43) and Saud Shakeel (24) ended day four at the crease on 80-2.

Earlier, Harry Brook struck a fiery 87 as England batted aggressively in their second innings before declaring at 264-7.

Debutant spinner Will Jacks took a career-best 6-161 as England finally dismissed Pakistan for 579 in response to their mammoth first innings score of 657.

Seeking ten Pakistan wickets in a maximum 130 overs, England showed their intent early and Ollie Robinson soon bounced out opener Shafique — who scored a century in the first innings.

In the same over he struck Azhar Ali with a sharp, rising delivery, forcing him to retire with an injured finger.

Then Stokes got the prized wicket of Pakistan skipper Azam by forcing an edge off a rising delivery that landed safely in keeper Ollie Pope’s hands — shocking the holiday crowd of 14,200.

But Haq — who also scored a century in the first innings — steadied the ship with Shakeel with a 55-run third-wicket stand.

England’s assistant coach Paul Collingwood said the match was "well balanced".

"We’re confident we can do it. The boys have shown that they’ll come up with different plans and different ways to try to get there," he said.

"If Pakistan knock off the runs, they deserve to win."

Pakistan’s Agha Salman also put forward a positive mindset.

"Our aim is to win the match, no matter how the pitch plays," he said.

The second session belonged to England, who added 218 runs before declaring when Brook was bowled in Naseem Shah’s last over before tea.

Brook smashed 11 boundaries and three sixes in a swashbuckling knock, coming after his 153 in England’s first innings.

Root also played a part in a 96-run partnership with Brook, scoring his 55th Test half-century.

Leg-spinner Zahid Mahmood dismissed Root and Stokes (nought) in the same over to finish with figures of 2-84, while Naseem took 2-66 and Mohammad Ali 2-64.

In the morning session, debutant Jacks took all three wickets to fall after Pakistan resumed at 499-7 — but not before the host’s tail-enders scored freely on a much-maligned flat Rawalpindi Stadium pitch.

Agha Salman (53) and Mahmood (17) frustrated England for 50 minutes during their stubborn eighth-wicket stand of 57.

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