Harry Brook continues record-breaking form as England bank vital first-innings lead in Pakistan third Test
When Harry Brook finishes his career there will probably be no more records. On day two here in Karachi, he recorded a third century in as many games to give England a crucial first innings lead of 50 before Pakistan finished day 21 for none – still 29 down.
23-year-old Brook, who plays as an injured replacement for Jonny Bairstow in this series, has dispelled any notion that he is tomorrow’s player with a commanding individual performance that heralded him as today’s player.
His 468-run tally is the highest ever for an English player on a tour of Pakistan – and he has an inning to go. By achieving three Test centuries in six innings, he trails only Indian legend Mohammad Azharuddin as the fastest to accomplish the feat.
At this point, Brooks’ name only appears on lists containing either legends or obscure 19th-century figures. England have a player now and for a long time to come.
Brook’s efforts were all the more impressive today, having arrived at the kink after England lost two wickets in two balls to leave them at 58 for three. First, Ben Duckett was caught in the kink by left-armed spinner Nauman Ali and received LBW before the 36-year-old spinner was able to straighten one up just enough to take the edge on Joe Root’s bat and be caught slipping on his first test of the series. The former England captain has opted for a golden duck.
Brook, along with Ollie Pope, would calm England’s nerves somewhat as they added 40 runs together. Pope himself reached half a century as he continued his individual tour, which was also very nice for the Surrey batsman.
But no matter how well Pope saw them, there was nothing he could do about the delivery of Abrar Ahmed that had his name on it. A quick but classic leg break that ripped off the line of the leg stump and hit the tip. It left England 98 for four and still over 200.
The partnership between Ben Stokes and Brook would follow a similar pattern as 40 more runs were added before a wicket would fall. This time it was England’s doing as Brook, golden boy as he is, ran away from his own captain in a ridiculous manner. A comfortable three was available, but Brook sent Stokes back too late, resulting in both batters ending up at the same end. Stokes, on his way away, gave Brook a thumbs up for not worrying about it. Half a gesture of support and the other not wanting to argue in front of the kids.
At 145 to five, England were in danger of losing a significant lead over Pakistan. But the combination of Brook in fine form and a quiet but vital half-century from Ben Foakes would see the pair put up over a hundred combined and approach Pakistan’s total.
Brook eventually departed after 111 and pinned LBW from Mohammad Wasim for his first Test wicket. And Rehan Ahmed would leave soon after, too, when he was caught at midwicket trying to bat his third ball Test cricket into neighboring Hyderabad. If the execution didn’t show why the 18-year-old had been chosen, the positive attitude certainly did.
Lively and lively cameos from 35 and 29 by Mark Wood and Ollie Robinson respectively put England past Pakistan’s total of 304 and to a significant margin. Both left for Abrar to try their hand at large animals, but only after they had more than fulfilled their role. Foakes also went in a similar fashion, but only when he tried to increase run rate while flicking his tail. Overall, England’s last three wickets added 89 runs as they turned a potential first-innings deficit into a solid lead.
As dusk fell, England had nine overs left in the day to bowl against Pakistan without incident. The only notable strategy was England opting to open the bowling with spin from both sides when Jack Leach teamed with Root before Ahmed himself had two overs before the game was over. At the end of the second day, Pakistan trailed England by 29 runs with all ten wickets remaining.