Joe Root claims to have learned from the mistakes he made at Lord’s, throttling back from a typically high-scoring rate to register a 10th Test century that he now intends to turn into a big one.
Root, who is 141 not out overnight after the first day at Old Trafford, is two matches into his new position at No3 and revealed his dismissals in the first Test – a top edge when sweeping Yasir Shah in the first innings, before a duffed pull off the seamer Rahat Ali in the second – have prompted a rethink.
While his strike rate of 57 in the innings is barely above that in his career as a whole, in the past two years, in which he has been England’s standout performer, he has scored more quickly at 64.
The 25-year-old, who shared a stand of 185 with his captain, Alastair Cook, said: “I have felt in good touch all summer – I found some stupid ways to get out – but I worked hard to graft and maybe not score at the rate I have done recently over the past few years.
“If that’s what it takes to score big hundreds, that’s what I have got to do. It’s really important that we keep building. We have got a lot of batting remaining but we still need to put good partnerships together.”
Cook, whose 105 was his first Test hundred since an epic 263 in Abu Dhabi against the same opposition last October, was pleased to show the way to his side, having talked about the way forward against Pakistan’s bowlers – and the leg-spinner Yasir in particular – in the four days between Tests.
He said: “It’s been a while since I scored a hundred for England and off the back of last week, as a captain, you talk a bit more than the other players, so it’s nice that the actions back up some of the words you have been saying.
“It was nice to win the toss against Misbah-ul-Haq, finally, and it was an opportunity to score a few runs on a wicket that will be good for a few days but will deteriorate as the game goes on. First-innings runs are vital and now we are in with an opportunity to get well over four or five hundred.”
Cook was bowled by Mohammad Amir on the stroke of tea during a seven-over spell from the left-armer in which sections of the Old Trafford crowd repeatedly cried “no ball” in reference to the Lord’s spot-fixing scandal of 2010. The England captain claims not to have picked up on it at the time but was not entirely sympathetic.
“I didn’t notice the calls of ‘no ball’ but that’s probably a good sign,” he added. “I was thinking about more important things. I said at the start of the series that might happen and there has got to be some consequence a little bit.
“The most important thing is the way both sides so far have played in the series. Cricket has been the talking point – whether it’s the performances of Chris Woakes or Yasir Shah [at Lord’s]. If we continue to do that, cricket will be spoken about, which is the most important thing.”
Pakistan’s bowling coach, Mushtaq Ahmed, claimed his seam attack delivered on the first day on a largely batting-friendly surface but was critical of the leg-spinner Yasir for losing his discipline against Cook and Root in particular.
Yasir jumped to No1 in the world Test rankings after a 10-wicket performance at Lord’s led to him being man of the match but overnight he is wicketless for 111 runs from his 31 overs. Mushtaq, a former wrist-spinner himself, believes the additional hype to have got to the 30-year-old.
He said: “Expectation does put you under pressure and you try and deliver the same performance. But he started losing the discipline that he had in the last match. On a first day pitch Yasir must remember the job he has to do. He got 10 wickets in the last game and he forgot the basics. It does happen.
“The ball was not coming nicely from his hand. It’s very hard for a coach to tell him what to do but I sent him some messages and the ball came flatter, with less spin. But the margin of error is less against quality batsmen like Cook and Root. You have got to bowl good overs against good players and he didn’t do that.”
Mushtaq had been among those who thanked the Lord’s crowd for their response to Amir’s comeback last week but admitted the response to the left-armer at Old Trafford was expected, adding: “He handled it well. All he has to do is concentrate on his bowling. He’s a mature guy now.”
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