In an amazing run-fest, four centuries by the top order batsmen helped England plunder a record breaking 506 for 4 on the opening day to put the tourists in command of their first Test appearance in Pakistan for 17 years.
Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett, who put on a 233-run opening stand, were joined by Ollie Pope and Harry Brook – the latter playing just his second Test – in posting hundreds on a remarkable day in which England’s run rate scarcely dipped below a run a ball as they became the first side to score 500 runs on day one of a Test.
England’s fiery batting — with 73 boundaries and three sixes — lifted the gloom over the start, which hung in the balance Wednesday after several of the tourists came down with a mystery virus.
Zak Crawley (122) and Ben Duckett (107) set the tone with quick-fire tons against a hapless Pakistan bowling attack before Ollie Pope (108) and Harry Brook (101 not out) compounded the hosts’ misery.
Ben Stokes was also not out, on 34, when bad light stopped play, having helped England break a 112-year-old record for the most runs on the first day of a Test — beating Australia’s 494-6 against South Africa at Sydney. It was also the first time four batters scored hundreds on day one of a Test.
After winning the toss England went straight into “Bazball” mode, the brand of freewheeling, aggressive play taken from the nickname of head coach Brendon McCullum.
No sooner had Brook brought up his maiden Test fifty, and he surged towards his century by whipping Saud Shakeel for six fours in one over to almost all quarters of the ground. Brook reached his ton off just 80 balls after he and Pope had added 176 runs for the fourth wicket and, when bad light ended play, he remained not out on 101 with Ben Stokes unbeaten on 34.
Crawley had threatened to become the first Englishman to score a hundred before lunch on the first day of a Test as he and Duckett set a solid foundation for their side, which had been laid low by a sickness bug just 24 hours earlier.
Stokes was among the worst affected but fronted up for, and won, an all-important toss after England were only able to confirm that they had a fit XI two-and-a-half hours before the start. They were forced into just one change to their intended team, handing Will Jacks his Test debut for a still-recovering Ben Foakes, with Pope to take the wicketkeeping gloves.
That was until his century in the drawn first Test against West Indies in Antigua in March this year, which seemed to set him up for the English summer, only for another unspectacular spell to ensue until his rapid unbeaten 69 off just 57 balls in September’s third and final Test against South Africa.
Crawley’s latest innings was next-level speed-wise, however, as he perfectly merged England’s assertive approach under Brendon McCullum with the need to make the most of his time in the middle while some of his team-mates regained their strength.
One of only four players in England’s original XI named on Tuesday to take part in an optional training session on match eve, Crawley opened with three fours off Naseem Shah so that England were 14 without loss in the most expensive first over of a Test in two decades.
Haris Rauf, making his Test debut after 57 T20Is and 15 ODIs, entered the attack in the eighth over, but Crawley continued to find the boundary with back-to-back fours either side of the pitch in Rauf’s second over and, after 10 overs, the tourists had motored to 63 for 0.
The last time Duckett played a Test, he fell for 5 and 0 at the hands of a rampant R Ashwin as England suffered a heavy defeat to India in November 2016 and he admitted thinking his Test career was over.
Making his return six years later after an excellent Championship season for Nottinghamshire, Duckett looked assured, his fortuitous slash through third to bring up England’s fifty notwithstanding, as he reverse-swept then ramped Zahid Mahmood to the fence.
Crawley brought up his half-century off just 38 balls, sweeping Zahid through fine leg for four, while England brought up their 100 in 13.5 overs and Duckett reached a run-a-ball fifty in the second hour.
Save for a hearty appeal for lbw, which looked to be high with no functioning DRS in the third over to test the on-field not-out decision, and a slash off Rauf which went just wide of a slow-moving Mohammad Ali at mid-on to move into the 90s, Crawley’s innings was domineering. He had scored 17 fours by the end of the morning session as he and Duckett took England to lunch unscathed with 174 runs on the board.
On 99, Crawley managed to overturn his lbw dismissal playing around Naseem’s full delivery which rapped him low on the front pad but was shown to be heading down the leg side. Two balls later, Crawley’s deft punch through the covers brought up an 86-ball century, the fastest by an England Test opener and joint fifth-fastest overall.
Duckett brought up his maiden Test ton with a pulled four off Rauf, a beaming smile spreading across Duckett’s face as he soaked up the applause. His stay was shortlived thereafter when he missed his reverse sweep of Zahid and was struck on the pad in line with off stump, although Pakistan had to review Joel Wilson’s not-out decision.
So ended England’s highest Test opening stand against Pakistan and they went from 233 without loss to 235 for 2 when Crawley followed a short time later, done by Rauf’s reverse swing as the ball slid through the gate and took a deflection on to middle stump.
Joe Root fell lbw to Mahmood for just 23, burning a review in a bid to overturn his dismissal before Pope and Brook forged on.
Brook, who had pulled Zahid for six on the stroke of tea, helped himself to another six in the evening session when he muscled Rauf over deep midwicket. He brought up his fifty with a single in the next over moments before Pope raised his century working Agha Salman off his toes for one to reach the mark in 90 balls.
As if the punishment from the top three wasn’t enough, Brook — playing only his second Test — cracked six consecutive boundaries off one over from debutant spinner Saud Shakeel.
He is only the fourth batsman to score six consecutive boundaries in a Test, following West Indians Chris Gayle and Ramnaresh Sarwan, and Sri Lanka’s Sanath Jayasuriya.
Brook reached his maiden century off just 80 balls, capping a highly entertaining day for a crowd of 6,000 that included around 150 “Barmy Army” fans. He added 176 for the fourth wicket with Pope, who fell to pacer Mohammad Ali.
Even when Pope fell to Ali, lbw on review to give Pakistan something to smile faintly about in the fast-fading light, Brook surged ahead with England’s quickest Test hundred now in his sights. He fell short of Gilbert Jessop‘s 76-ball mark set in 1902, but slotted in at No. 3 behind Jonny Bairstow when he struck Naseem for a gorgeous cover drive for four.
The fact that England still have the firepower of Jacks and fellow debutant Liam Livingstone to come on a batter-friendly pitch gave the hosts ever more to worry about overnight.
Stats – England and their four centurions break a 112-year Test record
506 for 4 England’s total at stumps in Rawalpindi. They bettered a record that has stood since 1910 to become the first team to cross the 500-run mark on the first day of a Test match. England’s tally of 506 is also the second-most scored by any team in a single day of Test cricket, behind Sri Lanka’s 509 on day two against Bangladesh in 2002.
1 England became the first team ever to end day one of a Test match with four centurions. Australia managed three – once in 1884 against England and once in 2012 against South Africa.
2 Previous instances of four centurions for England in a Test innings: 1938 against Australia and 2007 against West Indies.
1 This is the first-ever instance of four or more batters scoring a hundred in a Test innings against Pakistan.
174 Runs scored by England before lunch in Rawalpindi. A record for the first session of a Test match (where known). The previous highest was 169 in a 42 overs by England against Australia in 1938.
233 Partnership runs between Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett, the highest opening stand for England in Tests since 273 between Marcus Trescothick and Andrew Strauss against South Africa in 2004. It is the eighth-highest opening stand for England in Test cricket and the sixth-highest by any team against Pakistan.
6.53 Run-rate of the partnership between Crawley and Duckett. It is the fastest double-century opening partnership in Test cricket and the third-fastest for any wicket. The previous quickest first-wicket stand, in terms of run-rate, was 6.29 between Joe Burns and David Warner against New Zealand in 2015.
80 Balls for Harry Brook to score a hundred, the third-fastest in for England Test cricket. Gilbert Jessop scored a 76-ball century against Australia in 1902, while Jonny Bairstow took 77 balls against New Zealand earlier this year. Brook’s hundred is also the second-fastest by any batter against Pakistan in Pakistan, behind Brian Lara’s 77-ball century in Multan in 2006.
5 batters to hit four fours in an over. Brook joins the list after clattering Saud Shakeel to all parts in Rawalpindi. The last time such a thing happened was 2007, when Sanath Jayasuriya took a liking to James Anderson.
3 Players with a century in less than 100 balls for England – Brook (80), Crawley (86) and Ollie Pope (90). That’s another first in Test cricket. The closest anything gets to this record is the 2006 Lahore Test where three rapid centuries were split between players of two different teams: Shahid Afridi (78), Kamran Akmal (81) and Virender Sehwag (93).
2 Players with a quicker maiden Test century than Brook’s 80-ball effort: Colin de Grandhomme (71) and Jessop (76)
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