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Pakistan lose openers after steady start

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LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM: The wait is over as Pakistan won the toss and chose to bat first against England on a sunny morning at Lord’s Cricket Ground.

Pakistan were 76 for two at two at lunch on Thursday’s first day of the first Test, with Woakes having taken two wickets for 18 runs in six overs.

Azhar Ali was seven not out and Younis Khan, looking in good touch, 18 not out after Woakes had removed openers Shan Masood and Mohammad Hafeez.

Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq won the toss on a sunny day, with the pitch at Lord’s a notoriously good surface for batsmen.

Stuart Broad started the match with a maiden that saw him beat Hafeez on the outside edge.

Broad’s Nottinghamshire colleague Jake Ball, given a debut in place of James Anderson after the selectors decided against risking England’s all-time leading wicket-taker following a shoulder injury, opened the bowling from the Pavilion End.

Ball’s second delivery saw him appeal for leg before against Masood.

Umpire Kumar Dharmasena said not out and and an unsuccessful England review confirmed the ball had pitched outside leg stump.

Hafeez struck two fours off Ball but he was lucky on 11 when an edge off Broad was dropped by third slip James Vince, who couldn’t hold a low chance to his left.

Right-hander Hafeez cashed in with well struck cover-drives for four off both Nottinghamshire bowlers.

But first-change Woakes made the breakthrough with just his seventh ball.

A rising delivery had left-hander Masood, playing away from his body, caught behind by Jonny Bairstow for seven.

The same combination then dismissed Hafeez for 40.

Hafeez’s 59-ball innings, including eight fours, ended when he tried to work to leg a short ball from the Warwickshire all-rounder that swung away a touch only to get a top edge, with Bairstow holding the skyed chance.

Woakes had taken two wickets for five runs in 16 balls and Pakistan were 51 for two.

But Younis showed his class with two well-struck straight driven fours off fast bowler Steven Finn, playing on his Middlesex home ground.

“We are counting on Yasir Shah too, who can be very valuable under the conditions in England,” said Pakistan’s captain Misbah-ul-Haq soon after winning the toss.

Pakistan’s captain and test skipper was also confident that his batting line-up would perform well.

Not only for Pakistan, it’s a huge challenge for pacer Muhammad Amir as well today to prove his cricketing skills after the world denounced and rejected  him for the infamous 2010 spot-fixing scandal that unfolded on the same ground.

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Six years ago, during a Lord’s test, Amir and Pakistan new-ball partner Mohammad Asif deliberately bowled no-balls on the instructions of captain Salman Butt as part of a sting operation carried out by a tabloid newspaper.

All three received five-year bans from cricket and, together with sports agent Mazhar Majeed, jail terms.

Such was the impact of the controversy, the fact teenage sensation Amir took six for 84 in the first innings of that match has largely been forgotten.

Thursday’s match is Pakistan’s first series in England since 2010 and the 42-year-old Misbah’s first appearance at Lord’s.

Today’s Pakistani line-up comprises of Mohammad Hafeez, Shan Masood, Azhar Ali, Younis Khan, Misbah-ul-Haq (c), Asad Shafiq, Sarfraz Ahmed, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir, Rahat Ali and Yasir Shah.

On the hand, England’s playing eleven includes, Alastair Nathan Cook (c), Alex Hales , Joe Root, James Vince, Gary Ballance, Johnny Bairstow, Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad, Jake Ball and Steven Finn.

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