England batters broke a 112-year-old record on the first day of the first test match against Pakistan, racking up 506 runs for a loss of four wickets at Rawalpindi’s cricket stadium in 75 overs, when play was called off due to bad light.
Playing its first test match on Pakistani soil in 17 years, English batters took advantage of the flat pitch after captain Ben Stokes won the toss and had no hesitation in electing to bat.
Four English batters have scored a century so far. With four more days to come, they could still break the record for the most number of centuries in an innings, currently shared by Pakistan and England at 5.
The English team managed to hit 73 fours and three sixes on a day that was cut short due to fading light.
The previous record for the highest number of runs scored on the first day of the match was Australia’s 494 against South Africa in Sydney in 1910.
England’s own previous record for most runs on the first day was 471, which they made in 1936 against India.
The announcement that the match would go ahead was only made hours before the first ball was due to be bowled, after the English camp declared all their playing XI would be fit for the match.
The English team was struggling with many absentees as more than 14 players in the squad were reported to be unwell on the eve of the game.
Pakistan, which gave a debut to four players, were a bit unlucky when 19-year-old Naseem Shah, who was leading their attack, managed to get one to swing back to Zak Crawley in the third over, and appealed for leg before wicket but it was turned down.
After that, there was no stopping the English, who put on a majestic display of stroke-making on a flat Pindi pitch the resembled the country’s motorway.
Crawley and Ben Duckett made merry, scoring at a rapid clip and going to lunch with 174 on board in 27 overs. The two completed their centuries in the second session.
Duckett was the first wicket to fall when he was trapped by leg spinner Zahid Mahmood for 107.
Crawley followed soon with seven balls when he was bowled by a beautiful reverse swinging ball by debutant Haris Rauf for 122.
Former captain Joe Root was the only failure when he became second wicket for spinner Mahmood after scoring 23 runs, when he was the third wicket to fall at the total of 286.
Ollie Pope then joined hands with Harry Brooks, and went after a tiring Pakistani attack.
Mohammad Ali, the Pakistani medium-pacer who was given the new ball due to his stellar performance in the recently-ended domestic tournament, managed to get Pope out for 108 runs right at the end of the day.
Brooks hit debutant Saud Shakeel’s innocuous left-arm spin delivers for six fours in his second over. He managed to complete his first test century off just 81 balls in the penultimate over of the day.
But captain Ben Stokes came out all guns blazing, and in 15 balls he faced, he managed to smoke six boundaries and one six, ending the day with 34 runs.
Apart from Ali, all over Pakistani bowlers went for more than six runs in an over and captain Babar Azam will have a tall order on day two to somehow contain the English team, which is keen to continue with their aggressive style of play.