England’s attacking brand of cricket reached new heights as Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett powered the visitors to 174 without loss at lunch on day one of the first Test against Pakistan at Rawalpindi.
Crawley almost looked as though he had prepared to play a T20 match when he struck 14 off his first five balls of the game, and although the rate slowed slightly, he went into the break unbeaten on 91 from 79 balls.
Having waited 17 years to play Test cricket in Pakistan, England almost had to wait a bit longer when the match briefly faced being postponed by 24 hours.
Around 13 to 14 members of the touring party were affected by a viral infection but all but Ben Foakes recovered in time for the scheduled start of play, and it was confirmed the match would go ahead as planned on Thursday morning.
Will Jacks was handed a surprise debut, with Ben Stokes forced into making one change from his proposed XI due to the wicketkeeper still suffering from the illness in the camp, and Ollie Pope was awarded the gloves instead.
It was a very hazy morning at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium, and the visitors continued to embody their attacking and entertaining brand of cricket which was cultivated under the leadership of Stokes and Brendon McCullum.
Recalled to the side for the first time since 2016, Ben Duckett showed his versatility in Pakistan, sweeping both ways to reach 77 from 85 balls as the home side’s inexperienced bowling attack struggled to stem the flow of runs.
Only 19-year-old Naseem Shah had made his debut before the game, with Mohammad Ali, Haris Rauf and Zahid Mahmood all making their first Test match appearances.
England scored at an almost inconceivable rate, hitting 141 from the first 20 overs, and had already reached more than 100 before the first drinks break.