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Shafique and Haq give Pakistan solid start after England’s 657

(AFP)

Pakistan’s openers got among the runs on a placid pitch Friday as they took the home team to 181 without loss in reply to England’s mammoth 657 in the first Test in Rawalpindi.

At close on day two, Imam-ul-Haq (90) and Abdullah Shafique (89) were approaching hundreds when umpires called stumps with 17 overs remaining.

The home team still need 277 runs to avoid the follow-on.

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

Shafique was lucky to survive a confident caught behind appeal by 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 Test.

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, highlighting his rapid progress.

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

Earlier, resuming at 506-4, England added 151 runs in 125 minutes, with Harry Brook taking his overnight score of 101 to 153 — one of four centurions in the innings.

Skipper Ben Stokes (41), debutant Liam Livingstone (nine) and Brook were all dismissed by pacer Naseem Shah, who finished with 3-140.

Leg-spinner Zahid Mahmood conceded 235 for his four wickets — the most by a bowler on a Test debut.

“I bowled my heart out,” he said later, adding that he thinks the pitch could take spin on day four and five.

Brook admitted it would be difficult to bowl a side out twice on the wicket.

“It would be tough to get 20 wickets, but we will definitely give it a crack,” he said.

“When we were batting it started to get a bit lower… hopefully, Stokes can figure out a plan to get wickets.”

England’s total is their highest against Pakistan in all Tests, improving on their 589-9 at Manchester in 2016.

On Thursday England became the first team to score 500 runs on the opening day of a Test match, bettering Australia’s 112-year-old record of 494-6 against South Africa in Sydney.

Zak Crawley (122), Ollie Pope (108) and Ben Duckett (107) were the other centurions in the innings.

The three-match Test series is England’s first in Pakistan for 17 years, having declined to tour in the interim because of security fears.

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