Sport Pakistan's Babar Azam hits sublime half-century to frustrate England
Wahab Riaz included in Pakistan's 20-man squad for England Tests
Pakistan have cut their touring party to 20 for the Test series against England, which starts in Manchester next week.The tourists have whittled down their 29-man touring party for the three-match campaign, which begins on August 5 at Old Trafford.
Babar Azam reached a regal half-century just before rain brought an early tea on the first day of England's opening Test against Pakistan with the tourists 121 for two.
After being invited to bowl first by visiting captain Azhar Ali, the hosts will have been happy with a lunch score of 53 for two - Jofra Archer and Chris Woakes with a wicket apiece.
Woakes welcomed star batsman Babar to the crease with a wonderful delivery that might easily have clipped either the outside edge or the off stump but the 25-year-old dominated proceedings in the afternoon session.
How to watch England vs Pakistan: Live stream the Tests and T20 Internationals online
England host Pakistan in a month-long series comprising of three Tests and three T20 Internationals. Here's how to watch it anywhere onlineEngland now host Pakistan in a series that comprises three Test matches and three T20 Internationals throughout August. All six games will be played in the biosecure environments of the Emirates Old Trafford at Manchester and The Ageas Bowl in Southampton that hosted the series against West Indies and Ireland.
He hit nine boundaries as he reached 52 not out in just 71 balls, almost every one of them imperious, as he set about proving all of the praise he has garnered in recent months is well placed.
The players were forced off the field by a shower just before 3pm and would have welcomed the chance to regroup after Babar's onslaught.
As well as stalling England's progress his efforts also placed Shan Masood in the shade, the opener having ground out a valuable 45 not out across more than three hours.
Babar already up there with Smith and Kohli - Azhar
Azhar Ali expects Babar Azam to rocket up the Test rankings as Pakistan prepare to do battle with England.Babar has proved he can be a class act in all formats and will be hoping to pick up where he left off on the Test stage at Old Trafford this week six months after he last played for his country.
England began by confirming an unchanged XI, Ben Stokes again selected as a specialist batsman as uncertainty over his nagging quad injury continued.
While that spelled bad news for Zak Crawley, omitted once more to accommodate the extra bowler, it at least spared a thorny selection decision between Woakes and James Anderson.
Pakistan began their innings under moody skies and with the floodlights on, but openers Masood and Abid Ali showed sufficient composure to negotiate the first hour for 32 without loss.
Both men were beaten on the outside edge on a couple of occasions but stuck admirably to the task of seeing off the challenge of Anderson and Stuart Broad.
Pakistan pick two leg-spinners and opt to bat, England unchanged
Ben Stokes will again play as a specialist batsman in the first Test against a Pakistan side that includes two leg-spinners.Shadab Khan was selected along with Yasir Shah to give Azhar a pair of leg-spinners to call upon, with Shaheen Afridi, Naseem Shah and Mohammad Abbas the seamers in a dangerous attack.
In the end it was the first-change bowlers, retained here ahead of Sam Curran and Mark Wood, who got England back into the conversation.
Archer, who created more headlines off the field than on it against the Windies, needed just seven deliveries to make his presence felt.
After pushing the batsmen back in his first over, he started the second with a fuller ball at Abid, jagging it in off the pitch and pegging back off stump.
He made his way back for 16, an exit made all the more frustrating by a brief rain shower which forced the sides off after only three more deliveries.
It was only a brief recess but within 10 minutes of the restart Woakes sent captain Azhar Ali for a more permanent trip to the pavilion.
Shan and deliver - Pakistan attack cash in on opener's heroics
Shan Masood scored his third century in as many Tests - a career-best 156 - before Pakistan reduced England to 92-4 at Old Trafford.Star batsman Babar Azam was removed by James Anderson without adding to his overnight 69 as England checked Pakistan's day-one momentum with impressive discipline during the morning session.
Looking to get off the mark with a flick to leg he was undone by Woakes' unflinching control of line and length, thumped on the front pad and on his way after an unwise referral.
That brought Babar to the crease amid great anticipation, but Woakes' greeting was perfect, shaping in and snaking away to leave the batsman groping.
Babar needed 15 balls to get off the mark, dropping a quick single to cover, with Woakes completing a superb eight-over spell before lunch.
Anderson resumed in the afternoon and immediately found Babar in better touch, a flick down to fine-leg, a push through midwicket and a back-foot push through cover getting the boundary counter moving.
The 38-year-old also became the first man to be no-balled by the TV umpire, part of an ICC trial that sees the front foot monitored off-field.
Babar was into his stride now, caressing Archer past mid-on and unfurling a pair of serene cover drives off Dom Bess.
England's Woakes: We've 'given ourselves a chance' in Old Trafford thriller
England used pace to break down Pakistan's batting, but it could be the tourists' spinners who are key to the rest of the Old Trafford game.Paceman Woakes took 2-11 in five overs, with Stuart Broad (2-23) and Ben Stokes (2-11) also doing damage with the ball as Pakistan crumbled to 137-8 in their second innings.
The spinner had better luck against Masood, deceiving him with an arm ball then clipping his outside edge with turn on 45.
Jos Buttler shelled the chance to deny England a breakthrough before the rain, but Babar reached his fifty just in time with another four off Archer.
Video: "Joe Root: England to make late decision on Ben Stokes' fitness" (Evening Standard)
Pakistan all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez to self-isolate after bio-security protocol breach .
Pakistan have confirmed Mohammad Hafeez will self-isolate until returning a negative coronavirus test after breaking bio-security protocols.The picture, taken on the golf course adjacent to the on-site hotel at the Ageas Bowl, was posted on the Pakistan all-rounder's Twitter page on Wednesday.