MANCHESTER: Babar Azam struck a fluent unbeaten half-century as Pakistan moved to 121 for two at tea following a session cut short by rain on day one of the first Test against England at a gloomy Old Trafford on Wednesday.
It was a profitable period before the break for the tourists, who will resume with the imperious Azam (52 not out) and opener Shan Masood (45 not out) as they seek to mount a big first innings total having won the toss and elected to bat.
The pair were able to up the scoring rate after lunch, adding 68 runs in 16.1 overs before rain forced them from the field.
It was chalk and cheese from the first session, where England’s bowlers beat the bat almost at will and picked up the wickets of captain Azhar Ali for a duck, trapped leg before wicket by Chris Woakes, and Abid Ali (16), who was bowled by Jofra Archer.
England had found the right line and length then, but were wayward after lunch and Azam, the key player in the Pakistan batting line-up, was able to capitalise as he moved to his half-century from 70 balls with nine fours.
England have named an unchanged side from the one that defeated West Indies by 269 runs last week, though key all-rounder Ben Stokes is unlikely to be used much with the ball due to a quad injury.
Pakistan have gone with three seam bowlers, including young firebrands Shaheen Afridi, 20, and Naseem Shah, 17, who are likely to play a key role in the series with their pace and movement.
They have also selected the leg-spin duo of Shadab Khan and Yasir Shah, and with the wicket already showing some sign of wear, they could be crucial in the fourth innings if Pakistan can get enough runs.