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Pakistan off to a promising start

Younis Khan looking good at unconquered 99

Taunton – July 3, 2016: Despite a mid-afternoon wobble, losing three wickets for 32 runs to be reduced to from 100 for one to 132 for four, this turned out to be an almost perfect day for Team Pakistan team as they knocked up 324 for five on the first day of the tour-opening three-day game against Somerset.

What seemed to be quite promising for the Pakistanis trying to acclimatise to conditions peculiar to England while getting ready for the forthcoming Test series – their first in these parts for six years – is that most of their batsmen save the ever-reliable skipper Misbah-ul-Haq spent some time in the middle.

Though the 179-run stand between Younis Khan (99 not out, 14 fours) and Asad Shafiq (80; 10 fours) in a trifle over 40 overs by far overshadowed the others, Shan Masood’s 62 (eight fours) too was an important knock. And though Mohammad Hafeez and Azhar Ali perished after getting past 20, they seemed be in fine fettle.

On a beautiful day at the classically English county ground of Taunton play started shortly after the church bells at next-to-the-ground St James’ for Sunday prayers had stopped pealing.

A decent crowd saw Pakistan progress to 79-1 at lunch with Shan Masood and Azhar Ali watchful. There were impressive spells from Paul van Meekeren and Josh Davey. There was also brief excitement as Mohammad Hafeez struck two sixes in one over as Davey sought to test him with shorter stuff.

After lunch, there was a flurry of wickets as Van Meereken had Azhar Ali caught behind from a neat away-swinger. Then Groenewald trapped Masood LBW for a solid 62. Misbah was then caught at third slip off his second ball.

Three wickets in 32 runs was indeed a jolt, but by tea Pakistan had regrouped with a 50-run partnership from Younis Khan and Asad Shafiq to reach 182-4.

Younis and Asad carried on as before after tea and looked very composed on a good Taunton wicket in afternoon sunshine. Runs came and came. Both players looked in excellent form and enjoyed the practice in conditions perfect for batting.

By 5.30pm Pakistan had brought up the 300 for the loss of four wickets.

And by the close they had pushed it on to a substantial 324-5 with Asad falling shortly before the close for an attractive-looking 80, caught at slip off Leach, but Younis was still holding fort at 99 not out – and looking good for many more.