England fast bowlers Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes picked up two wickets each to reduce Pakistan to 68-4 at lunch of the second at Headingley.
Pakistan won the toss and decided to bat first in the second Test against England as they handed a Test debut to batsman Usman Salahuddin. England, meanwhile, gave 19-year-old left-arm fast bowler Sam Curran his Test cap after all-rounder Ben Stokes failed to pass a fitness Test hours before start of play on Friday.
Stuart Broad gave the hosts the perfect start with the ball as he removed both openers Azhar Ali and Imam-ul-Haq early before Chris Woakes sent back Asad Shafiq and Haris Sohail by lunch time. After the interval, James Anderson got back among the wickets with the scalps of Sarfraz and Faheem Ashraf to leave Pakistan rocking at 79-7.
Shadab Khan and Hasan Ali then stitched together a plucky 43-run stand which frustrated the English pacers. Shadab slammed his third Test half-century and was the last man dismissed for a well-made 56 as Pakistan posted 174 runs in their first-innings.
In reply, England openers Alastair Cook and Keaton Jennings got off to a solid start with a 53-run stand which was broken by Faheem Ashraf after the latter was caught behind by Sarfraz for 29 runs. Cook and Root took England past the 100-run mark before the former was dismissed on 46 by Hasan Ali towards the closing stages of play on Friday.
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Stokes was declared a doubtful starter after suffering from a tight hamstring on Wednesday. Uncapped teenage Surrey pacer Sam Curran has been called up as cover for Stokes. If Stokes is unfit, all-rounder Chris Woakes is likely to come into the side.
On Friday morning, Stokes batted in the nets and will be assessed further before a decision is made over his match-fitness.
A good sign for England? He’s batted in the nets this morning but will Ben Stokes be passed fit to play at Headingley?— Sky Sports Cricket (@SkyCricket) June 1, 2018
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Meanwhile, Pakistan are set to hand Usman Salahuddin his Test debut, rather than fellow uncapped batsman Fakhar Zaman who scored a match-winning hundred against India in last year’s Champions Trophy final at The Oval.
But Sarfraz said: “It wasn’t close…we’ve seen Usman as a better option. Usman has been with us for the last three tours. He’s worked very hard and he’s been doing well.”
England: Alastair Cook, Keaton Jennings, Joe Root (c), Dawid Malan, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Ben Stokes/Chris Woakes, Jos Buttler, Mark Wood, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, James Anderson
Pakistan: Azhar Ali, Imam-ul-Haq, Haris Sohail, Asad Shafiq, Usman Salahuddin, Sarfraz Ahmed (c & wk), Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Amir, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Abbas
All-rounder Stokes suffered a tight hamstring during fielding practice on Wednesday at Headingley and was limited to shuttle runs with the team physio on Thursday, despite reporting a slight improvement in the injury.
Stokes will undergo a scan to try to assess the extent of the injury and is likely to face a late fitness test before England name their side on Friday. Uncapped Surrey seamer Sam Curran, 19, has been called up as cover.
“Of course if Ben’s fit we want him in the side, he’s one of our best players, he brings a lot to the table and offers so much to this team,” Root told Sky Sports News.
Pakistan won the first Test by nine wickets at Lord’s last week and Root believes a quick return to action will benefit his side.
“I think it helps us getting straight back into it, not having too much time to think about things,” Root said.
“It was very clear where we needed to improve from last week. We’ve had some good preparation, the guys have really worked hard and now it’s just doing it, going out and proving a point, putting a really strong performance in as a group and showing some pride in the badge.”
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) May 31, 2018
Lancashire opener Keaton Jennings returns to the side to partner Alastair Cook at the top of the order and Root added: “He will be desperate to take his opportunity. Every player in this side wants to make an impact this week.
“Every time we play a Test match there are all sorts of different pressures that come with it and for Keaton it’s a great opportunity. I hope he looks at it that way and goes out and expresses himself in his own way.”
Asked if he was feeling the pressure of arresting England’s poor run of form, Root said: “When you are winning and performing well you have to keep churning out those performances and when you’re on the other side of it you’ve got to make sure you turn it round.
“As always I’ve gone into practice, felt if there were any areas I wanted to work on and got them done so I can go in full of confidence tomorrow and know I’ve given myself the best chance. It’s nice to have that feeling going into any game.”