Hosts England continued their domination over Pakistan, with both bat and ball, on day two of the Old Trafford Test. Resuming at 314 for 4, England punished the Pakistan attack even further, reaching an imposing 589 for 8 before declaring – Joe Root , who began the day on 141 not out, went on to make a memorable 254. Chris Woakes and Jonny Bairstow made identical scores of 58. Woakes continued his great run with the ball, claiming three wickets as Pakistan crumbled, and finished the day on 57 for 4, a long and scary road ahead.
Having been out in the field for over 150 overs, Pakistan would have been mentally drained, and the batsmen faced a massive challenge to face an English attack strengthened by the comeback of James Anderson and Ben Stokes. But, it was Woakes who continued to make Pakistan batsmen dance to his tune. Openers Mohammad Hafeez and Shan Masood survived for 12 overs before Woakes broke the resistance having Hafeez caught at slip off a loose stroke. Azhar Ali’s horror series continued as he played an uninterested push, and handed a simple return catch to Woakes.
The troubles for Pakistan continued. Younis Khan has been leaping and fending around, and his dismissal came in rather familiar fashion – as he gave a catch to mid-wicket unable to control his stroke, Stokes being the beneficiary this time. At 48 for 3, it wasn’t surprising that the visitors sent in a nightwatchman in Rahat Ali. But, England had enough time to send him back as well. Woakes again did the trick, as the batsman fended a bouncer straight to short leg. Masood ended the day on 30 not out, and skipper Misbah-ul-Haq on 1, with a huge mountain to climb.
Before the bowlers, it was Root who put the hosts in a position of strength. He had converted only one of his last 10 fifties into a hundred, and had a definite point to prove, especially are giving his wicket away in the last match. He more than made amends with a near perfect knock. The short ball could have got him again, but the ball landed away from the fielder, when on 143. Root carried on, and his taming of Yasir Shah was reiteration that he is England’s best player against spin. He got his double hundred by reverse-sweeping Yasir to the third-man boundary.
While Root held up one end, Woakes, Stokes and Bairstow all combined to help England score quickly and push towards a declaration. Yasir, who was the tormenter in chief for England at Lord’s, was taken for 213 in 54 overs. And, that was indication enough that the tide had turned. Pakistan are now clearly on the backfoot, and Lord’s seems like a distant dream.
--By A Cricket Analyst