Pakistan win battle of attacks in first Test against England

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There is a fine line between taking a positive approach and playing with reckless abandon and, on numerous occasions in the first Test against Pakistan at Lord’s, England crossed into the latter camp.

From Joe Root’s ill-conceived slog sweep against Yasir Shah in the first innings to Moeen Ali’s blood-rushing skip down the wicket to the same bowler in the second, the examples of the hosts’  “naïve” batting, as Alastair Cook called it, were many.

This is a young side that has become indelibly linked with fearless, attacking cricket in all formats. When it comes off the approach is lauded and revered, but when it doesn’t displays like the one in London appear.

Invariably, but not exclusively, Shah coaxed the false shots. He claimed 10 wickets in the match, the first time he has done so in his career, and in doing so leapt to the top of the Test bowling rankings.

The leg spinner’s career haul now stands at 86 victims after 13 matches. No other player in the history of the game has had more by this stage and England are largely to thank. They have been knocked over by Shah 25 times now, in just three matches against him.

This Pakistan bowling attack is far from one dimensional though, even if their pace options amount to three left-arm seamers.

All three offer something unique to their captain, Misbah-ul-Haq, and the trio shared the Shah-less wickets around as England crumbled to a 75-run defeat.

Rahat Ali provides control. He took out all of England’s top three on day four, Cook with a good delivery, Alex Hales and Root with poor batting.

Mohammad Amir shares the new ball with Ali and swings it at pace, while Wahab Riaz is the bruising enforcer at first change.

If England are to get back into this series their plans against all four men need to change.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.