Shafiq century puts Pakistan in control against Northants

Rob Keogh claimed three wickets for Northants
Rob Keogh claimed three wickets for Northants

Northants’ bowlers were made to work hard for their wickets under a blazing sun as Pakistan put themselves into a very strong position in the tourists’ clash at the County Ground on Saturday.

After the County’s batsmen had struggled to 259 all out on day one, with Adam Rossington’s well-made 90 the highlight, Pakistan set their stall out to bat all day on Saturday, and they managed to do just that, reaching 357 for seven at the close.

Asad Shafiq was the star of the show for Pakistan, scoring a patient unbeaten 135 from 224 balls, hitting 11 fours and three sixes.

Support came from Haris Sohail, the left-hander hitting 79 from 157 balls, and Babar Azam, who made a comparitively breezy 57 from 79 balls before becoming Rob Keogh’s third victim of the day.

The Northants spinner ended with figures of three for 83 from 24 overs, while Steven Crooks also impressed, claiming two wickets late in the day to finish with two for 61 from 19 overs.

There were also wickets for Gareth Wade and Brett Hutton, and the Northants bowlers can be pleased with how they stuck at their task and showed good discipline to ensure their team just about stayed in the game.

Northants go into the third day, with the sun again set fair to shine, trailing by 98 runs.

On day one, the County’s batsmen let a promising position slip as they were left bamboozled by teenage Pakistan leg-spinner Shadab Khan, who took six for 77.

The County looked in decent shape at 104 for two with Rob Newton (35) and richard Levi (31) at the crease, but Khan claimed both of their wickets and then proceeded to run through the middle order as Northants slumped to 168 for seven.

Rossington led a fightback with his excellent 90 from 135 balls, and there was also late resistance from South African Ricardo Vasconcelos (30) on his Northants debut.

Pakistan play a one-off Test against Ireland this week (May 11), before their two-match series against England, which begins on May 24.