Test Match Day 1: Centuries from Cook and Root give England the advantage
Outstanding centuries by Alastair Cook and Joe Root put England firmly in the driving seat on the first day of this Second Investec Test Match.
Cook made 105 and Root was unbeaten on 141 as England closed day one on 314-4 to establish an early advantage in this game.
Cook’s 29th Test century and Root’s tenth Test hundred also saw the pair establish a new record of 185 runs for the 2nd wicket in matches between England and Pakistan at Emirates Old Trafford and the second-highest for any wicket by England against Pakistan on this ground.
England’s day started well when Alastair Cook, who became only the fourth man to captain England in 50 Tests today, won the toss and elected to bat on a good-looking pitch.
James Anderson and Ben Stokes swapped sunny Southport for sunny Emirates Old Trafford, both returning to the England line up having been on opposing sides earlier in the week when Lancashire met Durham in the County Championship.
Their inclusion, after recovering from injuries that side-lined the pair from the first Test at Lord’s, came at the expense of Steve Finn and Jake Ball as England looked to bounce back from the opening Test defeat in London.
And captain Cook made a bright start with two boundaries to third man off Mohammad Amir from the opening over.
Amir and Rahat Ali found some early swing which troubled Alex Hales in particular, the Notts opener guilty too often of playing across the line without much foot movement, and it was Amir who produced a beautiful inswinging yorker to bowl Hales for 10 from the last ball of the 7th over with the score on 25.
The England skipper looked in great touch, cracking Rahat Ali to the fence with a square cut and stroked five fours during the first hour while Root produced a lovely drive to start his innings, easing Amir to the long-on boundary.
The duo grew in confidence as their partnership blossomed throughout the morning, and they expertly drew the sting out of the Pakistan attack, punishing anything that was short or off line.
The visitors found it impossible to halt the flow of runs with England reaching lunch well on top at 95-1, and the pair continued to score freely after the resumption with Root reaching his half century off 86 balls with Cook reaching the same landmark moments later from 90 deliveries.
Cook brought up the England 150 up with a delightful drive through extra cover off Yasir Shah, and the England skipper scored heavily with his trademark cuts and on-drives, reaching his 29th Test century from 157 balls shortly before tea.
It came as a surprise when Cook departed for 105 in the last over prior to the break, although the opening batsman could consider himself unfortunate when a ball from Amir kept low and cannoned on to the stumps off a bottom edge.
Root was in sparkling form, eschewing any of the riskier shots that had drawn criticism in the first Test, and he produced some glorious drives off the front foot and square drives off the back foot during his innings.
James Vince had a let-off when Younis Khan dropped a straightforward catch at second slip off Amir when the batsman had scored just six, and the Hampshire player celebrated by stylishly driving Yasir twice to the off side boundary twice in the following over.
Unfortunately a further attempted drive saw Vince edge Rahat to wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed for 16 to leave England on 238-3 after 64 overs.
Root continued to prosper reaching his hundred from 167 balls soon afterwards and coped admirably when Wahab tried to unsettle him with a string of short pitched deliveries late in the day, memorably pulling one short ball fiercely to the mid-wicket boundary.
Gary Ballance stroked Yasir for his first four from his 14th ball but in the main he played a watchful innings in support of Root contributing just 10 runs to the pair’s 50 partnership.
In contrast to Lord’s where he took ten wickets, leg spinner Yasir Shah struggled to impose himself, going wicketless from his 31 overs conceding 111 runs and although he plugged away tirelessly through five different spells, it will be a day he will want to quickly put behind him.
Amir took the new ball after 80 overs with England 285-3, and both Root and Ballance plundered boundaries to add to Pakistan’s growing sense of frustration.
Ballance departed for 23 five overs before the close when he chopped a Rahat delivery on to his stumps having added 73 runs in 21 overs with Root to leave England on a healthy 311-4.
Chris Woakes came out to perform nightwatchman duties to finish on 2 by the close. Root meanwhile will resume tomorrow on 141 not out, and England at 314-4 are in a great position to push on to a big first innings total.
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Photo © Simon Pendrigh