The opening day of the first Test match between England and Pakistan was affected by rain. Instead of 90 overs, the hosts could bowl only 49. Pakistan, after losing two early wickets, held on against England's lethal bowling.
The visitors fumbled in the beginning under the wet conditions of Manchester. The Emirates Old Trafford was, as usual, helping the seamers swing the ball. At one point, Chris Woakes was surprised when his delivery showed glimpses of a classic reverse swing.
Opener Shan Masood continued knicking the ball outside his off-stump, which on multiple occasions beat the slip fielders to eventually generate boundaries. They could have dismissed Masood early in the innings, but that didn't happen.
In the end, the 30-year old endured a difficult start and remained unbeaten after scoring a hard-earned 46 off 152 balls. In the past, Masood has failed horribly against the English fast bowlers. James Anderson, in particular, dismissed the Pakistani opener six times before this game. Early during the second day, Masood completed his half-century and is looking set on the pitch.
Masood's opening partner Abid Ali did try his best to hang on the pitch but not for long as Jofra Archer's delivery led to an inside edge on Ali's bat and hit the stumps. The 32-year old opener survived for 37 balls and scored 16 runs with the help of two boundaries.
First-down, Pakistan captain Azhar Ali fell for a duck courtesy of Woakes' superb movement with the ball. Ali couldn't detect the right trajectory of the delivery and eventually, he was found leg-before-wicket.
Babar Azam ended the day with an unbeaten 69 and his third-wicket partnership with Masood generated 96 runs. But he failed to build big innings, as Azam fell to Anderson early on day two at the same score that he had finished with on the previous day.
According to BBC, former Pakistan cricketer Azhar Mahmood said, "It was a great day for Pakistan. At lunch, the game was evenly poised but after that, these two guys played so well. Especially Babar Azam with his cover drive on the front foot. I thought Shan Masood played well too but he was lucky with the missed chances from (Jos) Buttler."
Pakistan was betting big on Azam to help the Asian side take a massive lead during the first innings. But with the in-form batsman succumbing early into the second day, clouds of anxiety will hover in the visitors' dressing room.