•   Tuesday, 28 Mar, 2023

England 46-2 at lunch after taking first innings lead against Pakistan

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RAWALPINDI: England raced to 46-2 at lunch on the fourth day of the first Test against Pakistan Sunday after spinner Will Jacks took six wickets on his debut to help the tourists gain the upper hand.

Jacks grabbed 6-161 to help England dismiss Pakistan for 579 and give his side a 78-run first-innings lead.

At the break, Zak Crawley and Joe Root were at the crease with 24 and four respectively, pushing the lead to 124 with eight wickets intact.

The tourists — playing their first Test series in Pakistan for 17 years — have another five sessions to force a result in the three-match series.

Opener Ben Duckett — one of four century makers in England's mammoth 657-run first innings — was caught at slip off the second ball of pacer Naseem Shah for a golden duck.

Fellow centurion Ollie Pope cracked two boundaries before hooking fast bowler Mohammad Ali into the hands of Naseem, scoring 15.

Earlier, 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 Zahid Mahmood (17) frustrated England for 50 minutes during their stubborn eighth-wicket stand of 57.

Earlier, on a see-saw day three, Pakistan were lifted by centuries from skipper Babar Azam (136), and openers Imam-ul-Haq (121) and Abdullah Shafique (114) after England's mammoth first innings total of 657.

But England took three wickets in the first session, none in the second and three again before the close to put themselves in a better position.

Saturday's final session belonged to home skipper Azam, who hit 19 boundaries and a six for his first Test hundred against England.

He cracked a boundary towards cover off opposition skipper Ben Stokes to reach his eighth career Test century, this coming off 126 balls and studded with 13 boundaries.

The centuries by Shafique and Haq meant for the first time in 146 years of Test cricket the openers of both teams reached three figures in the first innings.

Their 225-run opening stand — a Pakistan record against England — is also the first time in Test history that two 200-plus opening partnerships were made, following Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett's 233-run partnership for the visitors.

England are on their first Test tour of Pakistan in 17 years, having stayed away in the interim because of security fears.