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Duckett, Brook strengthen England lead after Pakistan’s batting debacle


MULTAN: England stretched their lead to 281 runs with five wickets in hand with help of phenomenal half-centuries from Ben Duckett and Harry Brook after their bowlers wreaked havoc on Pakistan’s batting line on Day 2 of the second Test, here at Multan Cricket Stadium on Saturday.

Starting their second turn with an advantage of 79 runs, England batters sailed a bit cautiously this time, however, first innings hero for Pakistan Abrar Ahmed continued to intimidate visitors and provided Pakistan with breakthroughs at regular intervals.

Abrar took three wickets to increase his wicket tally to 10 in the match, besides playing roles in two of the run-outs as England closed the day at 202/5 with skipper Ben Stokes (16* off 25) and solid-looking Brook (74* off 108) on the crease.

With Zak Crawley effectively removed with a direct hit in the fifth over of England’s second turn which started after the lunch interval, a surprise move to send Jacks to bat at no 3 proved unwise since he fell cheaply to the mystery of Abrar.

Root with a watchful knock of 21 off 35 tried his best to live up to his reputation as England’s best player of spin but eventually had to surrender with a screamer at short leg off Abrar.

Duckett and Brook, however, put England back in control in the final session as the two gathered for a 68-run partnership on the fourth wicket before Abrar’s short-of-length delivery remained surprisingly low and skidded into the bottom of off stump to end Duckett’s phenomenal knock 79 off 98.

Ollie Pope, who swapped positions with Jacks, had an unfortunate day as he became the second run-out of the innings when non-striker Brook sent him back after he was halfway through to the pitch and had no chance to make the ground.

Earlier, England bowlers ran through Pakistan’s jittery batting line in the morning session on day 2 to restrict the hosts to 202 in the first innings.

In one of the highly turbulent batting collapses, Pakistan lost eight wickets for an addition of mere 60 runs after pacer Ollie Robinson provided England with a breakthrough, knocking down skipper Babar Azam who resumed the play on Day 2 along with Saud Shakeel.

Closing the first day on high at 107 for 2, the disastrous batting display left Pakistan trailing by 79 runs, diluting the heroics played by Abrar Ahmed who took seven wickets to contain England to 281 in the first innings.

After a relatively calm first six overs in which Babar and Saud added 35 runs to jack up their overnight partnership to 91, Robinson had his man in his first over, dislodging the skipper on 75 from 95 balls.

Saud soon followed the suit after scoring his consecutive Test fifty and fell prey to Jack Leach, who registered his 100th Test with the dismissal.

Wicket-keeper batter Mohammad Rizwan, however, looked cagey when he took 28 deliveries to open his account and scored just 6 off 41 before he tried to take on Leach. After hitting a four down the ground, he was beaten by a dipping ripper that crashed the stumps.

The lower order, however, proved a much easier task for England to get the job done before Lunch as Mohammad Nawaz, Agha Salman, Mohammad Ali and Zahid Mahmood were removed in quick successions with part-timer Joe Root claiming two wickets in an over.

All-rounder Faheem Asharaf tried to resist a bit on the last wicket as he hit four boundaries to score 22 before Mark Wood ended his stay.

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