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Masood happy with Pakistan's progress on rain-hit day

by  Ali  •  Last updated on 2020-08-06 09:29:49

Shan Masood, the Pakistan opening batsman, was happy with the way his team fared on the opening day of the first Test against England in Manchester, stressing that they managed to maintain a decent run-rate while keeping the wickets in hand on a rain-hit day. Only 49 overs were possible on Day 1, with Pakistan going into Stumps at 139 for 2 thanks to an unbroken 96-run stand for the third wicket.

Masood played the anchor's role in the third-wicket partnership, taking 152 balls for his 46. He contributed 15 off 54 deliveries in an opening stand worth 36 runs with Abid Ali, having overcome a testing period in the first hour. He continued his vigil throughout the day, assisting Babar Azam in helping Pakistan rebuild after the visitors lost a couple of wickets before Lunch.

"When you bat first, as an opening batsman you want to back that decision. Collectively as a team we took that decision of batting first. It was very important to negate that new ball, knowing that England has world-class bowlers, especially in their home turf. And they bowled well, they bowled in good areas, they hardly gave anything away initially," Masood said at the press conference at the end of the day's play on Wednesday (August 5), adding that the rain breaks did not make it easy for the batsmen to maintain the tempo of scoring.

"As a team, being in that stop-start position is not always easy because you have to switch on, switch off, and switch on back again. There was a break before Lunch, one after Lunch, and then when we went out to bat in the evening. These are the challenges of Test cricket, especially in England where we all know about the weather. We were very happy that we got through that period and hoping that tomorrow, providing the weather is fine, we make a decent start count.

"Every time there's a stop-start, you have to apply yourself each time, it's like a Lunch break or a Tea break, or resuming the next day. All the batsmen need some time (to settle in). It was important for us in the final session, with play not looking likely to extend much, to keep the wickets intact. We (still) maintained a reasonable run-rate against a side that looks to dry up the runs. We scored at close to three runs an over, it's a good platform for us to build on," said Masood.

Babar, who was initially watchful, finished with a strike rate of 69 for his unbeaten 69 which included eleven boundaries, as he registered his seventh fifty-plus score in eight innings. While Pakistan managed 53 in the 25 overs that were bowled in the first session, Babar's busy innings, which included some delightful drives, effortless backfoot punches, and good use of his feet, helped the visitors add 66 off 16 overs in a rain-shortened second session.

Masood was lavish in his praise of Babar's stroke-making and his ability to adjust quickly to the ball. "I've always enjoyed batting with Babar Azam and there's no doubt that it's a good thing for Pakistan that we have a batsman in our side who ranks among the top batsmen in the world, in all three formats. Babar's quality is such that...there were a couple of incidents when the ball slowed down or did not come on to the bat, he had good reflexes and hands that he still punished the bowlers.

"Once he got set, the run-flow increased, and once that happened the opposition got a bit disturbed. Runs are important and the run-rate, from today's perspective and the conditions on offer, we maintained it well, ran well between wickets. Babar always looks for the single and a left-right combination is also important. And Babar Azam is a quality player and when he's batting the opposition is always under pressure," added Masood.