Pakistan openers Imam and Shafique fight back in Rawalpindi Test against England

Bowlers continue to struggle as hosts reach 181-0 on day two

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It was Pakistan's openers' turn to pile on the runs as the first Rawalpindi Test continued to haunt bowlers on Friday.

Imam-ul-Haq (90) and Abdullah Shafique (89) took the home team to 181 without loss in reply to England's mammoth 657 on a placid wicket on day two. The home team still need 277 runs to avoid the follow-on.

The pitch was again unresponsive to bowlers as the England attack, led by James Anderson, toiled in the same manner as the home side.

Shafique was lucky to survive a confident caught behind appeal by keeper Ollie Pope off a rising delivery. Although umpire Joel Wilson gave a soft signal for out, television official Marais Erasmus overruled it.

Haq, who scored a century in each innings on the same pitch in a Test against Australia in March, pushed spinner Jack Leach for two to complete 1,000 runs in his 17th match.

Shafique, who also scored a hundred against Australia in the March Test, cracked two boundaries to reach his fifth half-century in his eighth Test.

Haq followed suit soon after, taking a single off Joe Root for his fifth half-century.

After four English batters smashed hundreds on Thursday, the visitors continued to play aggressively.

Resuming on 506-4, England posted their highest total against Pakistan.

Captain Ben Stokes stepped out to smash the second ball of the day over bowler Naseem Shah's head for a six en route to an 18-ball 41.

Naseem (3-140), leading a Pakistan attack which contained three debutants, had his revenge four balls later when he clean bowled the England captain.

Liam Livingstone fell for nine in his debut Test but overnight batsman Harry Brook (153) was unstoppable.

The 23-year-old, who smashed six fours in a Saud Shakeel over on Thursday, once again embodied England's highly entertaining brand of cricket milking 27 runs from a Zahid Mahmood over.

Leg spinner Zahid bled 235 runs – most by any Test debutant – in 33 overs for his four wickets.

Meanwhile, Ramiz Raja, a former national captain and now Pakistan Cricket Board chief, said he was “not happy at all” over the state of the pitch, which he admitted was “not a great advert” for Test cricket.

“We live in the dark ages of pitches in Pakistan,” he told reporters, adding, “it's embarrassing for us, especially if you have a cricketer as chairman.”

“I think our way out is for drop-in pitches,” Raja added.

“If you want to nail England, for example, we've got to prepare a drop-in pitch that turns from ball number one. It is better than having this hodgepodge where you get a half-baked pitch which is neither quick nor spins.”

Updated: December 02, 2022, 1:50 PM