Bairstow, Ali lead England recovery after early hiccups


London—Alex Hales was controversially caught early as Pakistan took three early England wickets in the Fourth Test – before Moeen Ali scored a magnificent century to claw the innings back.
Captain Cook’s side will top the world rankings if they win the Fourth Test – although India can overtake them by beating the West Indies twice, meaning it is must win for England. In a first innings scored of 328 all out, a flowing start from the openers then saw Hales was given out for six as Yasir Shah clutched a low effort off Mohammad Amir’s bowling.
The Nottinghamshire batsman held his ground but the umpires went upstairs and with no clear evidence to overturn their soft verdict of an out, he was forced to leave.
England were five down for 200 runs at Tea on the first day of the fourth Test against Pakistan at The Oval after Alastair Cook won the toss and elected to bat first.
Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali withered the storm with a profound 90-run stand, after the hosts lost four wickets in the morning session. Hales was the first batsman to walk back to the pavilion in the seventh over of the day, when Yasir Shah, stationed at mid-wicket, took a splendid diving catch off Mohammad Amir’s delivery.
Ten overs later, England captain, after scoring 35 off 50 balls, followed his opening partner as he played a good-length delivery by Sohail Khan on his off-stump after being dropped in the first slip by debutant Iftikhar Ahmed off Wahab Riaz in the previous over.
Five balls later, Wahab struck as Root nicked his short-pitched delivery into Sarfraz Ahmed’s hands. Not long after Root’s dismissal, Wahab made one seam away to get rid of Vince.
After Lunch, Wahab removed Gary Ballance to reduce England to five down for 110 runs when Azhar Ali plucked the ball in the slip cordon after fumble.
The Pakistan One-Day International skipper had dropped Bairstow earlier in the session.
The right-handed batsman went on to make a half-century and stood at 55 not out along with Ali on 52 at the other.
But England had reckoned against the determination of Wahab to make an impact on the series and, after entering the attack in the 12th over, he should have struck with his 13th ball, when Iftikhar shelled a low edge at first slip off Cook – ironically the same position in which Mohammad Hafeez, the man whom he had replaced, had been standing when he gave Root a crucial reprieve at Edgbaston last week.
However, Cook, on 34 at the time, had added just one more run when he stunned a packed Oval crowd into silence by leaning back on a pull against Sohail and under-edging into his own stumps. And, at 69 for 2, the door was ajar for Wahab and Pakistan to strike back.
Earlier, Pakistan skipper Misbah-ul-Haq talking to Mike Atherton after the toss said that he also wanted to have a go with the bat on this wicket.—AFP

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