Pakistan have been ‘top class’ in ‘alien conditions’ of Lord’s, says Michael Atherton

Michael Atherton praises an inexperienced Pakistan side’s ‘top class’ performance so far at Lord’s, with the visiting side currently trailing England by 56 runs, with four wickets remaining, going into day four of first Test…


It has been a top-class performance from Pakistan so far in this Test.

The visitors have shown great patience with the bat and discipline and skill with the ball – in pretty alien conditions – and they have caught exceptionally well too.

Catch up with the action from Day 3 of the 1st Test between England and Pakistan at Lord's.

There are only four survivors from the team that beat England at Lord’s two years ago and tied that four-Test series on their way to becoming No 1 in the world. Given that inexperience, both in Test matches and of English conditions, it has been a fantastic effort from them so far.

We have to say so far, as there’s still some way to go in this Test. Jos Buttler and Dominic Bess fought back brilliantly with fifties and a century stand in the final session. We’ll see what happens on day four.

But, the rest of England’s batsmen – with the exception of skipper Joe Root, who battled hard for 68 – looked really short on confidence.

England are No 5 in the world for a reason. They’ve had a difficult winter and the first-class games at the start of the season haven’t been easy, so someone like Mark Stoneman at the top of the order has come into this game really struggling for form. One or two others have not been playing much first-class cricket.

When you put the combination of factors all together and you’re up against what is a pretty decent and relentless Pakistan bowling attack, it has made life difficult for England.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that Stoneman is under pressure for his place. But, that is the art of selection, knowing when to make a change, how long to give somebody. He needs runs soon or else the obvious will happen.

But, credit to the Pakistan bowlers. Mohammad Amir bowled Jonny Bairstow with a terrific delivery in the afternoon that, after Root and Dawid Malan were going along nicely with a fifty partnership after lunch, had England behind in the game again.

Mohammad Amir bowled Jonny Bairstow with a beauty second ball

That’s the issue when playing against Pakistan. They’ve got skilful bowlers who can change things very quickly. Wickets tend to tumble in clusters.

But you have to adapt to conditions and situations in Test match cricket, you can’t just go out and play one way. Sometimes the conditions dictate that you have to rein in your natural game and play more carefully, fighting through difficult periods. I thought Pakistan did that. England, generally, haven’t.

That’s what Buttler has done well. Pakistan were pretty relentless when he first came in, threatening the top of off-stump and he tried to get outside of off, and go to the bowler, but wasn’t reckless.

Just that little change of taking the lbw out of the equation slightly changed the dynamic and had Pakistan suddenly searching for answers.

It’s set to be an intriguing fourth day.

England vs Pakistan

May 27, 2018, 10:00am

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Watch day four of the first Test from 10am on Sunday on Sky Sports Cricket (channel 404).