Sohail Khan was the surprise star of an engrossing opening day of the third Investec Test match between England and Pakistan at Edgbaston.
The seamer’s Test career has thus far been a staccato affair, to say the least. The 32-year-old has yet to play a Test twice in the same continent or make successive Test appearances within two years of each other, his three so far having arrived at Karachi (February 2009), Bulawayo (September 2011) and Birmingham (2016).
It is 11 years since a team batting first won an Edgbaston Testcite=
It’s safe to say that both those facts will soon cease to be valid. The muscular, bustling Sohail is sure to face England at The Oval next week after finishing with five for 96, having unpicked their top order by dismissing Alex Hales and Joe Root in nine balls in the morning and James Vince and Jonny Bairstow in ten balls in mid-afternoon.
That left England precariously perched on 158 for five but Garry Ballance (70, 150 balls, 11 fours) and Moeen Ali (63, 118 balls, seven fours) dug in to take their side to 297 all out – far from commanding but enough to give the seamers something to bowl at.
It is 11 years since a team batting first won an Edgbaston Test so when Pakistan put England in the odds on a home victory edged out a point or two. Sure enough, it was tricky for batting with early swing as well as seam-movement for the bowlers.
England’s openers added 36 from 57 balls before Sohail, who started this match with a combined one for 245 in Test cricket, took wickets in successive overs. Alex Hales edged an excellent delivery behind and Joe Root was drawn into playing away from his body and sliced to slip.
England were 244 for seven and in danger of not batting out the daycite=
To reach lunch two down would have been satisfactory for England but Pakistan struck again when Alastair Cook (45, 52 balls, eight fours) was lbw to an in-ducker. After a wasted review – it was as plumb as plumb could be – Cook departed, leaving England 75 for three and in the hands of two men needing runs to consolidate their places in the team: Ballance and James Vince.
The fourth-wicket pair knuckled down to add 69 before Sohail returned to strike again. Another fine ball forced a fatal edge into the slips from Vince (39, 65 balls, six fours) and then Bairstow, seeking to counter-attack, was undone by bounce and nicked behind.
That was 158 for five but Ballance deployed the requisite patience and technique while Ali reined in his attacking instincts as his team’s needs required. Ballance finally fell to a smart leg-side take by Sarfraz and when the keeper’s fourth catch ended Chris Woakes’ first Test innings at Edgbaston at nine (24 balls), England were 244 for seven and in danger of not batting out the day.
Ali and Stuart Broad added 32 before Mohammad Amir removed both in six balls, the latter superbly held high at third slip by Azhar Ali and the former caught behind.
An engrossing day ended with Steven Finn dispatching a couple of on-drives of which Jack Hobbs would have been proud before running out of partners when Sohail completed his five-for by trapping Jimmy Anderson lbw.
It’s advantage Pakistan…but only just.
Don’t miss Day Two at Edgbaston
After an incredible first day’s play at Edgbaston don’t miss your chance to be part of Day Two at Edgbaston tickets are available for just £6 for Under 16s and from £31 for Adults. Don’t forget to print at home or make sure you arrive at 9am to collect your tickets to avoid the queues.