KARACHI: Fast-bowler Sohail Khan made the most of his return to Test cricket after a gap of five years, with his haul including four important wickets to help Pakistan dominate day one of the third Test at Edgbaston in Birmingham.
Pakistan won the toss and captain Misbahul Haq elected to field — a decision which paid almost instant dividends.
For the hosts, Gary Ballance (70) provided the much-needed balance to ensure England do not get bowled out cheaply before falling to a Yasir Shah delivery.
Sohail, who is playing only his third Test, had endured a poor run in the format with below-par performances and injuries leading to his frequent exclusion.
Former skipper Rashid Latif, who had been continuously calling for the inclusion of Sohail in the national side, said the fast-bowler kept things simple, which was the secret to his success.
“Pakistani bowlers made mistakes in the second Test by allowing the English batsmen to leave the ball easily, whereas Sohail made them play, which resulted in wickets,” Latif told The Express Tribune.
“It’s important for fast-bowlers to make the batsmen play because that is where they will be forced to make mistakes. He bowled in the right channels and 90% of his balls were such that the batsmen either played them or missed closely. That and including a right-armer in the otherwise southpaw-dominated pace attack was the big difference. It was a good start for Pakistan, but there’s no room for complacency.”
The fast-bowler made his Test debut in 2009 in Karachi against Sri Lanka and went wicket-less, while his second Test came in 2011 against Zimbabwe where he could only claim a single scalp.
However, he embraced this opportunity with both arms wide open as the team management decided to play him instead of Wahab Riaz, while Sami Aslam was brought in for Shaan Masood.
Given the new ball instead of Rahat Ali, Sohail responded to Misbah’s call as he removed opener Alex Hales (17) and star batsman Joe Root (three) in quick succession to reduce England to 48-2.
Alastair Cook and James Vince tried to rebuild the innings but Rahat dismissed Cook, who made a quick 52-ball 42 with eight fours, and England were 75-3 at that stage.
Vince and Ballance had a decent stand of 69 for the fourth wicket before Sohail dismissed his Karachi Kings teammate Vince, with Younus Khan taking a blinder at second slip as the right-hander’s knock 39 came to end.