LONDON: Alastair Cook made a gritty 70 as England laboured to 165 for five at tea on the first day of the opening test against Pakistan at Lord’s on Thursday.
Playing in a record-equalling 153rd consecutive test, Cook batted fluently. But wickets tumbled around him after England captain Joe Root had won the toss in overcast conditions at the home of cricket.
Mark Stoneman, Root and Dawid Malan fell cheaply to the Pakistan seamers in the morning, leaving England struggling at 43 for three before Cook and Jonny Bairstow steadied the innings with a partnership of 57.
Bairstow, however, was bowled after lunch for 27 by a fine delivery from Faheem Ashraf and Cook’s three-hour vigil ended when Mohammad Amir produced an excellent ball that clipped his off stump.
Ben Stokes unfurled a few trademark attacking strokes to reach 36 not out at the tea interval with Jos Buttler on 13, but England have plenty of work to do as they look to move on from a heavy Ashes defeat in Australia and a rare loss to New Zealand.
Pakistan had dominated the first session of the two-match series.
Stoneman’s unconvincing international career continued when he was bowled by Mohammad Abbas for four, beaten as he tried to drive a full-length delivery which clipped the top of his off stump.
Root, who could have been run out before he had scored, played carefully to get to four before driving rashly at a wide ball from Hasan Ali and nicking a catch to wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed.
Malan was also caught by Sarfraz off Hasan for six, trapped half forward by a fine delivery which found the outside edge of his bat.
Cook needed a substantial score after a lean run of form and he struck 10 fours with crisp shots all around the ground.
But Cook’s hopes of a 33rd test century ended when he failed to get fully forward to a good-length delivery from Amir, leaving the left-hander to trudge slowly back to the pavilion to a standing ovation.
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Written by Mausam
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