England vs Pakistan Day One: Ali ton gives England control

Having lost early wickets, England looked to their middle order and Bairstow, Woakes and specifically Ali more than stepped up to the plate.

England vs Pakistan Day One: Ali ton gives England control
Moeen Ali sweeps on his way to a century | Photo: Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty Images

England began this test match with hopes of securing a 3-1 series victory, however at 74-4 that seemed a distant hope. Huge partnerships between Jonny Bairstow, Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes saved England's first innings. 

Once England were all out for 328, the bowlers started well and reduced Pakistan to 3-1 at stumps, Stuart Broad trapping Sami Aslam LBW for three runs. England ended the day in complete control of this decisive test match.

Wahab Riaz decimates England top order

Having been dropped for the third test, Wahab Riaz was a man with a point to prove. The Pakistan pace bowler looked dangerous from his first ball, his express pace and good control would have made him a threat to any batsman, never mind a top order under extreme pressure.

Wahab Riaz celebrates on his way to three wickets | Photo: Getty Images
Wahab Riaz celebrates on his way to three wickets | Photo: Getty Images

First Riaz removed the ever dangerous Joe Root. The world number two is always capable of a big score and after an assured start another score appeared on the cards for the England number three. A delivery upwards of 90mph stopped him in his tracks, however. Root went for 26 edging to Sarfraz Ahmed off a ball he probably could have left alone.

The quick bowler then made light work of James Vince, a very quick delivery with some movement was too good for Vince, who by now will surely be very wary of losing his test place. Vince went for one and suddenly Riaz had two wickets in four deliveries and England were floundering at 74-4. Gary Ballance appeared to be looking to share a fruitful partnership with Bairstow, it didn't last however as Riaz found his outside edge and took his third wicket, Ballance gone for just eight runs. Wahab Riaz finished the innings with 3-93 from his 20 overs.

Ali shines as middle order fires

England was struggling and England being all out for near 200 was looking a very real possibility. Jonny Bairstow was the first of the middle order to show resistance to the now highly confident Pakistan attack. The wicket-keeper batsman once again showing all his skills that make him such a perfect fit in the England batting line-up. After digging in and nullifying the Pakistan attack he then looked to push on and score quickly, the Yorkshireman finally departed the crease having made 55 from 93 balls. 

Chris Woakes played all his shots, including magnificent cover drives. | Photo: getty images
Chris Woakes played all his shots, including magnificent cover drives. | Photo: getty images

It was the man who shared that partnership with Bairstow that stole the headlines, though. Moeen Ali was already in fantastic form having scored two half-centuries at Edgbaston in the third test match. A ton had evaded him in the last test, but his prayers were answered today. After sharing a 93 run partnership with Bairstow he then went on to share 79 run stand with Chris Woakes, the runs coming quickly at nearly a run a ball. Despite losing Woakes, the all-rounder having made 45, Ali didn't panic. Instead, he slowed down his scoring rate to accommodate the tail enders and batted sensibly finally reaching his century with a huge six off the bowling off Yasir Shaw. Ali's innings had not only anchored the England innings but also ensured the scoreboard kept ticking over, his runs coming at a strike rate of 71.05 and included 13 fours and two sixes.

England benefits from Pakistan mistakes.

Pakistan enjoyed a good start to Day One, yet it could have been so much better had their fielding been up to scratch. On his way to his century, Moeen Ali was twice dropped, once on 9 and then again one 15, had those chances been taken it could've been a very different match.

It wasn't just their fielding, however. Pakistan's bowlers and in particular Wahab Riaz regularly pushed the no ball line and more often than not pushed it too far. Riaz did have Bairstow caught at point when Bairstow's innings was still in it's infancy. Whilst Pakistan were celebrating Jonny Bairstow didn't move and rightly so. The umpire calling the no ball correctly, the Pakistan paceman being a fair distance over the line. 

Had Pakistan took their chances and been more careful in their bowling, the test could be looking very differently. England could have been all out for nearly half the score and been under extreme pressure.