Bazball is reinventing Test cricket – and there is more to come
Never before has a team attacked like this on day one of a Test match or done it in such style. England’s 506 for four proved this team are giving everything to reinvent Test cricket.
An hour after play finished, the lights from the England dressing room carried across the darkened Pindi Stadium as Brendon McCullum led the debrief.
The locals waiting outside for the roads to reopen had to wait longer to get home for dinner because there was a lot for McCullum to talk about and digest.
Only 24 hours earlier his players had been in the sickbay, unable to keep anything down or stomach the thought of playing.
A day later and they played with the enthusiasm of a kids picking up a bat for the first time, and McCullum could sit back like a satisfied patriarch to watch young batsmen play like veterans at the top of their game. In turn they proved what can happen when management has the courage of its convictions and gives players the backing to play with freedom.
Four made scintillating hundreds steeped in personal importance – Zak Crawley repaid the faith, Ben Duckett felt vindicated after six years out and wiped away his demons against spin. Ollie Pope proved his maturity and consistency with a composed 108 from 104 balls – scoring a hundred at No. 3 in a Test when he will also play as an emergency keeper with Ben Foakes ill – and Harry Brook smoked the best century of the lot from 80 balls in only his second Test innings.
They did not even need Joe Root for once; he made only 23. A 233 run opening stand and another of 176 between Brook and Pope for the fourth wicket broke Pakistan and it was worth waiting 17 years for this.
It does not matter how long you have watched Test cricket, or how many games you have seen, it will always have the capacity to produce something new. That is its beguiling quality and why it has endured while everything else around it has changed.
England’s total was the highest ever by any team on day one of a Test match, beating a record by Australia that has stood since before World War One (1910).
No England opener has scored a century as quickly as Crawley’s off 86 balls. England’s 174 for no wicket before lunch was their biggest total in the first session of a Test match and the record books do not tell us if 6.74 an over is the best ever but it must have been one heck of a performance to beat it. Bad light cut play by 15 overs; they could have made 650.
There were other records too: Crawley’s 14 off the first over was the most ever by an England player and his century stand from 83 balls the team’s quickest. This is the first time England have scored four hundreds in a day and Brook became the first to hit six balls of an over for four.
There was one near miss, Brook was five balls short of beating Gilbert Jessop’s record for the fastest England Test hundred (76 balls), a mark this team will surely beat soon. Brook’s second fifty took just 28 balls as England plundered tired bowlers.
But numbers are black and white and too many make the eyes spin. Instead this was about joyful batting and entertainment. Yes, it was a flat deck, a good toss to win and the outfield lightening so players got value for their shots. Yes, Pakistan were woeful – wasting the new ball, bowling some utter dross, sending down only three maidens and fielding poorly. But England made them back off, unsettled their lengths with their aggression and Pakistan feared a reputation built within the flash of an eye for raining down blows on bowlers. Babar Azam, their cautious captain, had no idea how to respond.
This was an important day. The momentum gathered in the summer could have dissipated. Was Bazball just a fad? A brief flash when they had nothing to lose? No, they doubled down on it.
Crawley was majestic. His cover drives and flicks through wide long on wonderfully timed. Duckett, square-cut the seamers like David Warner when they dropped short and took 12 off the first over from debutant leg spinner Zahid Mahmood, setting the tone with a reverse sweep. The three spinners were stunned and conceded runs at 7.6 an over.
Crawley drove wonderfully and Duckett scored all but 25 of his runs square of the wicket - the little and large combo working neatly at first attempt.
An attack with three debutants was taken apart ball by ball. This was not slogging either, or head-in-the-air swinging – shown by the fact England only hit three sixes. It was calculated, brutal precision against bad balls.
Crawley was given out on 99, leg before, but overturned on review, urged by Duckett to check when he himself thought he was out. He reached his hundred with a trademark four three balls later. Duckett joined him off 105 balls, and looked a little shocked by it all, raising his bat sheepishly.
Three wickets after lunch – Crawley bowled by the best ball of the day from Rauf, and Duckett and Root out sweeping, threatened to undo the good work, but Pope was silky smooth after an early misjudgement against the leg spinner.
He seamlessly continued the attack, cruising to fifty off 54 balls and a hundred in the final hour from another 46. At tea England were 332 for three and had started to slow. If the ball reversed there could still be time for Pakistan to get back in it. But England clobbered 174 in the final session, losing only Pope on review for 108.
Stokes hit the last ball of the day for four - the 76th boundary of the innings - to take England to the record score on day one. How fitting it was him. It is called Bazball, but Stokes is the piper they all follow. England’s biggest hitters are still to come. It is not over yet.
Scyld Berry's top five England batting displays
Rawalpindi. Flat pitch, naive bowling, but it was still a superlative achievement to score 506-4 off only 75 overs, without any major input from their two most senior batsmen, Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow. It was launched by the fastest opening stand ever of 200 plus. The game-plan was enacted as perfectly as cricket will allow.
Edgbaston 2005. Having bowed the knee to Australia since 1989, England roared and bit back at last, scoring 407 off only 79.2 overs after Glenn McGrath had pulled out. Australia were shocked, the worm had turned. Only drawback was that no England batsman went on to a hundred, the sign of individual mastery.
Trent Bridge 2022. Few people, apart from Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum perhaps, thought that England could win as New Zealand went into the final day with a decent lead and three wickets left. England, set 299, knocked them off in only 50 overs to win by five wickets, Jonny Bairstow hitting 136 off 92 balls.
Brisbane 2010-11. Not quite as speedy as the first three efforts in this list but almost as satisfying. England, 221 behind Australia on first innings, went into day four on 19 without loss, and ended it on 309 for one - leading eventually to their declaration on 517 for one. Andrew Strauss and Jonathan Trott made centuries, Alastair Cook 235*.
Lord’s 1990. England ended day one on 359 for two. Graham Gooch was unbeaten on 194, on his way to 333. But the pitch was flat, and the Dukes ball never had fewer threads in its seams than it did that summer, so there was an element of help yourself.
Never a bad time to watch this again
England will take the plaudits today and rightly so but questions will surely soon start being asked about this pitch. Australia's recent tour of Pakistan was plagued by heavy scoring and inactive pitches, which led to two of the three matches ending in high-scoring draws.
A balance between bat and ball is vital to creating compelling Test cricket. We should hold judgement on this pitch until we have seen Pakistan bat on it but the bowlers had very little to work with on day one.
Crawley's Test record
Zak Crawley in Test Cricket:
vs Pakistan 3 Inngs, 147.33 Avg, 100s - 2
vs All other teams 49 Inngs, 21.72 Avg, 100s - 1
The one that got away
I bet Joe Root is kicking himself in the England dressing room...
England upstage Australia
Records were not restricted to Rawalpindi this afternoon. In Perth, Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne both scored double hundreds for Australia against the West Indies - the 17th time in Test history that two double hundreds have been scored in one innings.
Perhaps more significantly, Smith's 29th century bought him level with Sir Don Bradman on Australia's all-time list - he now trails only Matthew Hayden, Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting.
Trust England to go ahead and steal the Aussies thunder though...
Crawley bounces back
Often maligned but always admired for his talent, Zak Crawley once again underlined what he can bring to this England batting line-up.
Will Macpherson has assessed whether his innings today will be enough to quieten his detractors.
Scyld Berry has attempted - if it's even possible - to put the miraculous stats put up by England on day one in Rawalpindi into context.
Fastest England Test centuries
We have some new entries in the top ten after today but Gilbert Jessop is still resting easy.
Gilbert Jessop, England vs Australia, 11 Aug 1902, 76 (balls faced)
Jonny Bairstow, England vs New Zealand, 10 Jun 2022, 77
Harry Brook, Eng vs Pakistan, 01 Dec 2022, 80
Ben Stokes, England vs New Zealand, 21 May 2015, 85
Zak Crawley, England vs Pakistan, 01 Dec 2022, 86
Ian Botham, England vs Australia, 16 Jul 1981, 86
Ian Botham, England vs Australia, 13 Aug 1981, 86
Kevin Pietersen, England vs West Indies, 6 Mar 2009, 88
Ollie Pope, England vs Pakistan, 01 Dec 2022, 90
Graham Gooch, England vs India, 26 Jul 1990, 95
What an extraordinary performance
Was that England's finest ever day with the bat in Test matches? The ease of the pitch and some poor Pakistan bowling might hold it back from the top spot but it's pretty close.
Whatever the conditions, scoring hundreds at this level is never easy but Crawley, Duckett, Pope and Brook made it look alarmingly easy.
The only disappointment perhaps is that bad light denied England the chance to break the Test record for most runs scored in a day - still held by Sri Lanka who scored 509 against Bangladesh in 2002.
'Everyone is so happy to buy in'
Ollie Pope speaking to Sky Sports:
"It was the ideal start to the tour obviously. We really listened to what Baz and Stokesy have said. It was an amazing day and I couldn't be happier for Brooky.
"It started from the get go - 14 from the first over. It put them under pressure and they looked like they panicked a little bit. It looked like there wasn't anywhere they could bowl to those two, It was a perfect way for them to set us up for a series."
Asked if he ever thought the side would score 500 in a day, Pope said:
"No, to be honest, not necessarily.
"The best thing is everyone has lived by how the two guys up top want us to play. They want us to entertain people. It is not about milestones. It is about putting on show and putting the team in a good position. The fact everyone is so happy to buy into that puts us in a really good place."
Signing the honours board
Ben Duckett speaks
On his maiden Test century speaking to Sky Sports
A pretty crazy day to be honest. I think an even crazier build-up to the Test with a lot us ill. At one point we weren't sure sure if were going to get out. For me personally, it is special day, one I didn't think would come around.
On his time out of the side
I was back at my county trying to score as many as runs as I could. I felt I wasn't closed to being picked. The real change was looking at this squad at the start of the summer. I went back to playing with more freedom.
On the Stokes- McCullum era
I don't think there will ever be a better environment to be involved in. There are lots of cricketers desperate to be in this dressing room. They allows you to play your game and play with freedom.
England batter Zak Crawley, speaking to Sky Sports:
"It was a good deck. I felt I played well. It was nice to bat like that after a tricky summer and thankfully I got a hundred today. I was trying be positive - I got lucky on a few occasions. I felt in good touch and am pleased with how I played.
"I was disappointed when I got out. I wanted a few more. I felt like I played alright in the summer at times but couldn't get that score."
Over 75: 506-4 (Brook 101, Stokes 34)
Stokes has come to play and he hits it over top for four more and England are closing in on their 500 mark. A six from Stokes who comes down the track and loft it over long-on for yet another four!
It has moved to 30 in no time and it is a short ball to end the over as Stokes guides it over the slips for another boundary.
The most runs in a day's play by any team is 509 by Sri Lanka in 2002 and England's record was 503 in 1924.
Sadly, the umpires have called it a day so England won't beat the international record.
Over 74: England 488/4 (Brook 101, Stokes 16)
What a cover drive from Harry Brook who brings up his first ever Test match century in his second appearance. That's the fourth time ever that four batsman have scored a hundred on an opening day.
Over 72: England 480/4 (Brook 96, Stokes 13)
Captain Ben Stokes is off mark with a boundary down towards third man. Then another boundary through midwicket for four more from Stokes.
There a few slips in, but there is no carry at all. Stokes then cleverly guides another one through midwicket for four more
He is off to a fast start, he is 12 from 4. No record century for Brooks just yet, who moves 97 balls from 77 balls.
Ali half- shouts for an lbw on Stokes, but it is way too high.
Over 71: England 462/4 (Brook 92, Stokes 0)
Stokes is the next batsman and you sense he will want to continue England's attacking intent which his batsman have set so far.
It was a good over from the hosts, just three runs coming from it an of course Pope's wicket. The light is fading fast in Rawalpindi, can Harry Brook reach is 100?
Over 70.4: Wicket Pope 108 lbw Ali
That was a big shout from Ali, who clearly thinks he has trapped Ollie Pope for lbw. On first glance, it wasn't slipping down leg, the umpire thinks so but Babar Azam sends it upstairs.
Excellent decision from Pakistan, as on replay it was hitting leg stump and Pope had to head back to the dressing room. The England batsman appears disappointed with himself, as he got across his stumps a little bit.
Something to celebrate for Pakistan, it's Mohammed Ali's first Test wicket on debut.
Over 70: England 459/3 (Brook 90, Pope 107)
After the drinks break, Brooks has moved to 90 with yet another boundary- his 13th of the day.
We have just seen the umpires receiving the light-metre in the break and the floodlights are on in the stadium, so it is worth keeping an eye on the time as it will be set for the remaining four days of play.
Over 69: England 451/3 (Brooks 85, Pope 104)
A little quieter for Harry Brook, just a single for him from Ali's delivery.
Two singles for Pope to finish the over. A welcome break for Pakistan, as players will take a drink.
Over 68: England 448/3 (Brook 84, Pope 102)
What an over from Harry Brook, as he pulls his first ball over for a boundary. Then, he takes advantage of a full toss from Shakell and drives it for another!
Then, it's three in a row for Brook, as he hits down the ground this time- incredible batting. He seems to be in a hurry to score his 100 and he hits another four! Same again in the fifth delivery through the off side, but that should have been stopped easily by the Pakistan fielder.
He ends the over with six fours of six- a staggering 24 runs in the over.
Over 67: England 427/3 (Brook 60, Pope 102)
A little quieter for England, just two singles from the over.
Over 66: England 422/3 (Brook 59, Pope 101)
Well, firstly it's a first half-century for Harry Brooks who has played superbly in only his second Test match for England.
And then Pope brings up his hundred with the next ball- a brilliant knock from the Surrey batsman.
The runs keep on flowing for England as it is four more from Harry Brooks. The records keep on being broken for England, firstly it was Zak Crawly hitting the fastest century by an Englishman and now its England's now scoring the most runs in a day in Pakistan- the previous record was 417.
Over 65: England 410/3 (Brook 49, Pope 99)
Ollie Pope reaches to 99, but sadly he will have to wait for his century, as Brook is on strike after nudging a delivery for two. There was a slight appeal from Razwan as Harry Brook attempts to pull a shorter one, but there is clearly no edge.
The Yorkshireman goes for the same shot and connects with it beautifully for six; he is on 49. Pope ends the over on strike after pulling out a forward defence.
Over 64: England 400/3 (Brook 40, Pope 98)
Ollie Pope brings up 400 for England and he drills one to the cover boundary. He takes the single of the next delivery, as Brook goes into the 40s with a fine reverse sweep.
Over 63: England 393/3 (Brooks 39, Pope, 92)
Rauf returns for the first attack for the first time after tea. However, it's more runs for England after a beautiful cover drive through the off-side from Pope and with that boundary he is into the 90s.
That was close from Haris Rauf as there was a bit of reverse swing that went through Harry Brooke's defences but the delivery misses the stumps. That was an excellent yorker to finish the over for Pakistan.
Over 62: England 386/3 (Brook 38, Pope 86)
Babar Azam puts Agha Salman back into the attack for the hosts. Slight improvement for Pakistan, as he bowls two dot balls but then Pope managed a reverse sweep; he gets contact and England get two.
Another good over from the visitors.
Over 61: England 377/3 (Brook 37, Pope 82)
Beautiful shot from Ollie Pope, has it's clipped between mid-wicket and mid-on for four more. Naseem is way too straight with his line, trying to find the inswinger.
He looks frustrated as Brook works his delivery passed Mohammed Ali, and it's four more for England.
Over 60: England 370/3 (Brook 33, Pope 75)
Brook attempts to play a sweep but decides against it after realising it was a tad too high for the Yorkshireman.
England are easing along with four singles and a two from the over making it so difficult to Pakistan to find the breakthrough.
Over 59: England 364/3 (Brook 31, Pope 71)
Only a few singles to report from the over. As Naseem Shah is still desperately looking for this wicket and doesn't seem to be his day. He bowled a decent line and length but was unable to get any chances from it.
Over 58: England 362-3 (Brook 30, Pope 70)
Brook is playing well as he whips the bottom through for four more runs at the start of the over. Again four more, as Ollie Pope clips one into the gap and runs hard for two more.
The hosts need a wicket and quickly.
Over 57: England 350/3 (Brook 25, Pope 63)
Naseem Shah bowls to Harry Brook and after three quick singles, Ollie Pope manages to find the boundary edge by clipping it through midwicket.
And that will bring up the 350 for England.
Over 56: England 342/3 (Brook 23, Pope 57)
A well-timed sweep from Ollie Pope who finds the boundary and brings up another 50 partnership, this time courtesy of Pope and Brooks.
Ollie Pope attempts the reverse sweep but he misses and it's well taken my Rizwan behind the stumps. To end the over, Brook hits a sharp single through to the covers.
Over 55: England 335/3 (Brook 22, Pope 51)
After the tea break, both sides are back out for the final session of the day one. Ollie Pope brings up his half-century with a bottom-handed flick through wide-long on. He is continuing his good from the summer.
Naseem Shah is getting some movement now, but England see out the over with a few singles.
By Nick Hoult, in Rawalpindi
England are cruising, the players sitting back in the comfy chairs in the dressing room and watching their mates bat with abandon during two scarcely believable two sessions. Illness and concerns over the Test starting have been replaced by England posting their highest ever first session score of a Test – 174-0.
Ben Duckett creamed a hundred on his Test return, and Zak Crawley set a new record for the fastest hundred by an England opener - off 86 balls. He repaid all that faith shown in him by Brendon McCullum, Ben Stokes and Rob Key. All three will feel vindicated. Joe Root was lbw missing a sweep – it’s a long time since he did that in Asia – as two of the three wickets fell aggressively but that’s the England playbook.
Duckett missed a reverse sweep for 107 while Crawley was bowled by a beauty from Haris Rauf for 122 that tailed late and suggested reverse will be the threat. England are still motoring at more than six an over despite the setbacks which has put them so far ahead of the game. Pakistan gambled on three debutant bowlers, and lost a crucial toss to be fair, but they should have done better in home conditions.
The two spinners have been belted for 6.7 an over – England sending a message for the series. Things tend to happen late in the day in Pakistan and if the ball is reversing England’s free-scoring players may find the going harder than those that faced the new ball.
The problem for Pakistan is they have not shown the skill or consistency to make that kind of advantage count. They have been stunned by England but they cannot say they were not warned.
Over 54: England 332/3 (Brook 22, Pope 48)
Three wickets falling in that session, but the visitors have added an additional 158 runs to their total. 13 runs come from that over with Harry Brook smacking Mahmood's drag down for six over deep midwicket in the final before the interval.
Ollie Pope tucks the spinner off his pads and it's away for a boundary. Pakistan are slowly crawling back but England have already made their mark.
Their bowlers seem to be getting used to this week, so maybe the tea break will help.
Over 53: England 319/3 (Brook 15, Pope 42)
Pakistan adopt more spin as slow left-armer Shakeel is one for the hosts. The Yorkshireman pulls his fourth delivery through midwicket with a brave attempt at a boundary save from Pakistan sadly coming in vain.
Over 52: England 313/3 (Brook 10, Pope 41)
As tea approaches, Mahmood completes a maiden over- the third scoreless over that Pakistan have bowled.
Over 50: England 305/3 (Brook 9, Pope 34)
England pass 300 in Rawalpindi as Mahmood's delivery is sent fine down the leg-side for four in this over, courtesy of Ollie Pope. The visitors still have Liam Livingstone, Ben Stokes and Will Jacks to come so things could become even more tricky for Pakistan.
Brook slightly flaps at the ball but it drops well short of the Pakistan fielder at deep backward square.
Over 49: England 299/3 (Brook 8, Pope 29)
Ali has found his line difficult to find and his delivery finds Brook and runs away for four byes. England are just shy of 300 runs and we haven't even reached the second session.
Stuart Broad's seal of approval
Over 48: England 294/3 (Brook 8, Pope 28)
Harry Brook will want to be filling the void of fellow Yorkshireman Johnny Bairstow- who is out until 2023 after breaking his leg on the golf course. He is up and running now by lofting a four off Mahmood over extra cover. That was the brilliant shot from the 23-year-old.
Over 47: England 286/3 (Brook 0, Pope 28)
Welcome Harry Brook to the crease after Root's dismissal. The Yorkshireman does not the face the ball in this Ali over with Ollie Pope seeing out a maiden.
Over 46: Wicket Joe Root 23 lbw Mahmood
Joe Root repeats the sweep he played in the previous over. He plays that shot so well but this time it has been proven to be his downfall.
He immediately reviews his lbw dismissal against Mahmood but sadly it was out on the sweep. The former England captain missed the delivery and it was striking him on the back leg with the ball-tracking confirming it was middle and off stump would have been him - a wasted review by the visitors.
Earlier on in the over, Pope played a brilliant cover drive by banging Mahmood through the off-side. Then, the wicket of Joe Root was taken with Mahmood's ball getting under his bat and trapping Root for lbw.
Over 45: England 281/2 (Root 22, Pope 23)
The former England captain seems to have had enough of this "slow start" and plays an audacious reverse shot. However, it does not connect. But then in the final two deliveries of the over, he plays two extremely good shots which earns him runs off both from Ali. The first is through midwicket for two and the second is a boundary through extra-cover.
Over 44: England 275/2 (Root 17, Pope 23)
Babar Azam brings fellow debutant back into the attack, who has also found things a tad tricky thus far. Of course, he has bagged the wicket of Ben Duckett and a two-run over here drops his economy rate below seven.
Over 43: England 273-2 (Root 16, Pope 22)
Mohammed Ali enters into the attack once more; it's been a tough Test debut for the seamer who's eight overs so far have been expensive for the hosts-53 runs being taken. This over, he has been bowling too short and allowing Ollie Pope to go through backward square for four.
Over 42: England 268/2 (Root 16, Pope 17)
Do I dare say this, but there is some encouragement for the Pakistani bowlers- a tad of reverse and a hint of spin. It is still a dream pitch for any batter. Root cleverly pings Mahmood through point for four with a reverse sweep in eight-run over.
The over includes with Root delivering a conventional sweep for two more.
Over 41: England 260/2 (Root 9, Pope 16)
Root steers his first boundary behind backward point after opening the face of his bat. He may get his second from this over but Naseem quickly darts to the square-leg fence to deny Root.
Over 40: England 249/2 (Root 1, Pope 13)
Mahmood continues at the other end for the hosts, with Ollie Pope and Joe Root adding a few singles for England.
And the end of the over, brings the drinks break.
Over 39: England 247/2 (Root 0, Pope 12)
It has only taken Pakistan 39th over for an actual real life maiden and Rauf is the man to do this for Pakistan to keep England from adding to their tally.
Over 38: England 247/2 (Root 0, Pope 12
So we have two new batsman at the crease for England now and you sense an opportunity for Pakistan to apply some pressure to the visitors. Although, Pakistan maybe a little apprehensive as its England's Joe Root- the ever reliable batsman.
Pope has began his knock with real attacking intent, seemingly determined to not let the run rate drop. He finds the boundary with a nicely timed reverse sweep and then driving Mahmood through the on-side for a boundary.
Over 37: Wicket Crawley 122 b Rauf
Zak Crawley began the over with two early runs as Rauf continues in the attack. But the seamer claims his first Test wicket with an excellent delivery. The England opener attempts to drive down the ground, but the ball goes through the gap between the bat and pad However, it crashed into the stumps to bring the opener's knock to an end! But what an innings he has played- hitting the fastest century by an Englishman.
England now lose two quick wickets after both openers hit brisk tons against Pakistan.
Over 36: England 223/1 (Crawley 120, Pope 0)
Ollie Pope is the new man at the crease for England and he immediately faces a DRS review after yet another delivery from Mahmood who strikes the Pope on the pads however the on-field umpires calls it not out.
Wicket: Duckett 107 lbw Mahmood
Ben Duckett goes sweeping and he faces spinner Mahmood and adds another six runs in the first two balls of the over
He survives the lbw appeal from Pakistan, but captain Babar Azam decides to review and this time it does go the away of the hosts with all red on the replay.
That is Mahmood's first Test wicked as well for the hosts.
Over 35: England 227/0 (Crawley 120, Ducket 101)
Duckett steers one behind him and it avoids the fielder who tries to stop it crossing the boundary and it brings up Duckett's maiden Test century.
The Nottinghamshire batsman ends the over with a single to stay on strike as well. What an unbelievable moment for Ben Duckett, he has waited for this moment for a long time, six years out of the side.
From the start, he has not allowed the Pakistan bowlers to settle.
Over 34: England 219/0 (Crawley 117, Duckett 96)
Mahmood enters back into the attack and finds the edge outside of Crawley's bat, but he is able to get enough on it for the ball to race away behind him for another four for England.
Duckett adds a sharp single to add to his tally in the final delivery of the over.
Over 33: England 213/0 (Crawley 112, Duckett 95)
That was a beautifully timed shot from Duckett as pulls new bowler Rauf into the leg-side boundary. He is just six runs away from that illusive century. To end the over, Crawley finds the boundary once more with a powerful shot off the back foot.
Over 32: England 204/0 (Crawley 108, Duckett 90)
Ben Duckett begins the over with a sharp single off Mahmood followed by Zak Crawley able to chip one into the leg side to add two more to his tally.
Mahmood is altering his lines and manages to get one which straightens but it just fizzes past the edge of Crawley's bat.
Over 31: England 201/0 (Crawley 109, Duckett 89)
Yes, you are reading this right Ben Duckett and Zak Crawley take the tourists to 200 without loss and stack up the highest opening partnership for England against Pakistan.
Over 30: England 199/0 (Crawley 105, Duckett 88)
Five more runs for Crawley to add his century so far in this over as he continues to attack with some aggression! Let's not forget Ben Duckett is only just 12 runs of that milestone as well.
The relief that Zak Crawley must feel after surviving being given out on 99; that has been the only chance he has given Pakistan in his knock- he has been truly immaculate.
Over 29: England 190/0 ( Crawley 100, Duckett 80)
There it is- what a moment for Zak Crawley! He gets his 100 in perfect style, with the right-handed batsman driving Shah through the off-side to the boundary for far from the final ball of the over.
It comes off just 86 balls as well- meaning it is the fastest hundred by an English opener in Test cricket history!
Over 28.4 England 190/0 (Crawley 99, Duckett 80)
Naseem continues around the wicket to Ben Duckett who clips away nicely for a sharp single followed by Zak Crawley going through the gully for four to move within one of his century. Then a huge appeal from Pakistan as the ball strikes Crawley's pad and the umpire immediately raises the finger to signal out.
However, Crawley with no surprise call for a review- and just looking at the replay it shows the ball was missing the leg stump- what relief for Zak Crawley.
Over 28: England 180/0 ( Crawley 95, Duckett 79)
The first over after lunch is bowled by Mehmood with Zak Crawley and Ben Duckett showing the same intent as they showed in the morning session- the England openers scored six runs from the over.
By Nick Hoult, in Rawalpindi
Wow. Where to start? Who said Bazball would not be effective in Pakistan? England rocketed to 174 in the first session - their highest ever total before lunch on the first day of a Test beating a record that has stood since 1938.
They were 174-0 at lunch - just five short of equalling the world record (179 by South Africa against Australia in 1902). Crawley was on 91, wiping away a woeful summer and enjoying batting against Pakistan again and Ben Duckett had 77 - his best score in Test cricket made in his first innings for the team for six years.
After worries the match could be delayed by sickness - it was given the go ahead just two hours before the toss - England were in rude health, relieved Ben Stokes won the toss on a belter and the bowlers could have another day to rest.
If there were any doubts that England would be circumspect on the road they were done and dusted in the first over - 14 coming off Zak Crawley’s bat. After 20 overs England eclipsed Pakistan’s total in the Twenty20 World Cup (138) final. Different format, same style for England.
Crawley cracked three fours in the first over from Naseem Shah, struck 11 in a 38-ball fifty and combined with Duckett for England’s fastest ever century opening stand (83 balls).
Crawley was excellent on the drive, slapping the leggie Zahid Mahmood through wide long on four times, and Duckett was pinpoint accurate with his squat square cuts and deft reversing the spinners.
They complement each other nicely - the tall Crawley and short Duckett score in different areas and challenge the bowlers’ lengths. And of course they both play positively otherwise they would not be in the team.
Can it last? Pakistan need to make the ball reverse quickly.
Jos Buttler reacts to England's astonishing start
Speaking on Sky Sports
It couldn't have get much better, than that, could it? It was fantastic to see the ease with which they scored boundaries all around the wicket. Zak Crawley dominated to start with and Duckett got into this stride as well. For their confidence as a new opening partnership, it can't get any better.
Over 27: England 174-0 (Crawley 91, Duckett 77)
A single to end the over off Naseem, which is added to Zak Crawley's tally to his century. However, that gets him off strike and will end his hopes of a pre-lunch 100.
It's been a superb astonishing start by England in their first Test in Pakistan for 17 years. A flat, unresponsive pitch bringing little joy to the Pakistan bowlers; but Crawley and Duckett have propelled their side to 174-0 to Rawalpindi.
Right, time for my morning coffee before play resumes at 7.40am (BST)
Over 26: England 172-0 (Crawley 90, Duckett 76)
Rauf returns to the bowling attack and slips a delivery to Duckett down the leg-side but he misses out with the ball going through to wicketkeeper Rizwan.
The England opener doesn't connect with his pull properly but Zak Crawley seems to get a better connection for his pull which is driven just put Ali on mid-on.it. It reaches the boundary and Crawley is now into the 90's.
Over 25: England 166-0 (Crawley 86, Duckett 75)
Naseem returns to the bowling attack for the hosts, he has been the best of the Pakistani bowlers so far in this match. He has clearly set a defensive field with Babar Azam looking to contain the runs rather than attack the English batters.
We can understand the tactics from Babar Azam, but setting up your field so defensively can be pose a risk especially if your bowler strays from their lines. That happened just now, with Naseem spearing a delivery into Ben Duckett's pads and pinged it nicely through the leg-side for a boundary. It was a poor delivery from Naseem but a brilliantly taken taken shot by Duckett.
Over 24: England 160-0 (Crawley 85, Duckett 70)
If Crawley does score his 100, he would only become the seventh player and first Englishman to score a century before lunch on day one of a Test match. If he wants to join this illustrious club, he has exactly 12 minutes to score 15 runs- plenty of time!
Over 23: England 158-0 (Crawley 84, Duckett 69)
Crawley picks up another four in this over by sweeping against Salman past his off stump. Ben Duckett is closing in on the 70's after a beautifully taken cover drive for four.
Ove 22: England 148-0 (Crawley 79, Duckett 64)
Duckett hogs the strike in this over, denting Zak Crawley's hopes of that pre-lunch century! Three runs from Rauf's latest over - one leg bye and two runs from Duckett who beautifully carves the fast-bowler down to deep third
Over 21: England 145-0 (Crawley 79, Duckett 62)
Off-spinner Salman enters the attack for Pakistan to stop the bleeding of runs for the hosts. He manages it for five balls in this over, only them to be swept behind square leg on the leg-side for four by Ben Duckett.
It was a tidy over for Salmon until his last delivery to Duckett- he was close to a maiden over there.
Over 20: England 141-0 (Crawley 79, Duckett 58)
Haris Rauf returns to the bowling attacking but Duckett pulls him in front of square for four more- make that 23rd boundaries for England.
At this start of this match, there was no DRS but we have received an update from the umpires- it is now available.
Over 19: England 134-0 (Crawley 78. Duckett 52)
And the runs keep on flowing with Crawley seemingly fancying his chances of getting a century before the lunch break. He is now just 22 runs away from that milestone after threading the final ball of spinner Mahmood's fifth over. It goes through mid-on for Crawley's15th four and England 22nd of the match.
Over 18: England 127/0 (Crawley 73, Duckett 30)
Welcome back to Test Cricket, Ben Duckett- 50 from 50 balls. He couldn't have asked for a better comeback. The left-hander closed in on his half-century milestone by angling Ali behind for four and the sweetly clinched it with a single. After six years out of Test team, it has allowed Duckett the chance to really cement his place for future Tests.
Over 17: England 121-0 (Crawley 73, Duckett 45)
20th four of the morning for England and Crawley flogs spinner Mahmood through midwicket off the back foot at the both the start and end of the over. There was san lbw appeal from Pakistan but on replay it was turned down in between with Mahmood's ball to Zak Crawley set to miss the leg stump.
Over 16: England 113/0 (Crawley 65, Duckett 45)
Ali is a tad short and Zak Crawley hauls the ball over the leg-side for a boundary. If Pakistan falter in their length at all, England keep on punishing them every time. Duckett and Crawley are really attacking and for the hosts a few fielding errors are starting to creep in.
Over 15: England 106/0 (Crawley 60, Duckett 43)
Mahmood continue for the hosts post-drinks and Ben Duckett rolls out the sweep to the spinner and the ball lands safely on the leg-side - three runs complete the over.
Over 14: England 03-0 (Crawley 58, Duckett 42)
We are only fourteen overs into this match and England are already into three figures. Ben Duckett brings up England's 100 milestone partnership by clipping Ali nicely back for a second spell and then three through the midwicket.
Time for drinks and Pakistan need to find some creativity to get anything from this placid surface.
From Will Macpherson, Cricket News Correspondent
An excellent start for England, with Crawley and Duckett's helpful contrasts on show. Crawley flew out the blocks, but it is Duckett who has looked most at ease – until that big slash. That might be because he's barely had to face Naseem, who has been much better than his opening partner Ali.
Over 13: England 97/0 (Crawley 54, Duckett 41)
Pakistan's bowling is way too loose and the batting from England has been so clinical. Zak Crawley has scored 38 ball fifty- his seventh in Test cricket. We know how much Crawley loves playing against the hosts- who could forget his 267 against Pakistan at the Ageas Bowls in 2020.
Over 12: England 87/0 (Crawley 47, Duckett 38)
Pakistan are struggling to stem England's flow of boundaries, whichever bowler the hosts turn to. Haris Rauf has not started this over well, straying the ball into Zak Crawley's hip and allowing the right-handed batsman to tuck away down to fine leg. The fourth and sixth balls of the over are too short, so Crawley is able to play them both through midwicket four. Three boundaries in that over.
Over 11: England 75/0 (Crawley 35, Duckett 38)
Test debutant Mahood is now on as Babar Azam turns to spin for the first time in this match. Ben Duckett is likening with the England batter reverse sweeping one four and then paddling sweeping another delivery.
It has been a sublime start from Ben Duckett who is causing all such of nightmares for Babar Azam.
Over 10: England 53/0 (Crawley 35, Duckett 26)
Crawley races well ahead in terms of runs with four successive boundaries off the over. He laces a beautiful cover drive through the off-side and then another boundary off his pads through the wickets. It brings up his tally of fours for the morning to seven now- England are really flying here on such a placid pitch.
Over 9: England 50/0 ( Crawley 25, Duckett 26)
The 50 partnership is up for England inside just nine overs in Rawalpindi as Ben Duckett slashes Naseem down to deep third for a boundary, down the slips. Not the most well-timed shot from Duckett but it brings him a fourth four on his comeback to this Test team for the first time since 2016.
Over 8: England 47/0 ( Crawley 25, Duckett 20)
Haris Rauf is now in for the hosts for his first spell on Test cricket debut. He completes a tidy over, just three runs conceded for Pakistan.
The 29-year-old has plenty of experience in the shorter format making 73 appearances for Pakistan across white-ball cricket. We know he can bowl rapidly but sadly this pitch is flat in these conditions so it's going to be a tough challenge.
Over 7: England 44/0 ( Crawley 24, Duckett 18)
Naseem is really testing Crawley now with a short ball but ends the over frustrated as the England batter pulls a brilliantly timed shot which sails down the fine leg for a boundary. The Pakistan fielder in the deep, should have made an better effort on the fence there.
Over 6: England 40/0 (Crawley 20. Duckett 18)
Duckett has started well here and the England opener opens the fact and steers Ali down to backward point for four. The Pakistan bowler is struggling to find this line and lengths on Test debut.
Over 5: England 34/0 (Crawley 20, Duckett 12)
In his first over, Naseeem is clearly trying to induce Crawley to play a loose drive but the ball slightly deflects off an inside edge, past the stumps and down to fine leg for a boundary. Those are the only runs in this over.
From Nick Hoult, at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium.
The pitch looks very flat, as expected. Interesting though that the groundsman has shaved four pitches next to the main surface - two either side. They were green on Monday, bare now and that has been done so the keeper can take throws on the bounce from the fielders and scuff up the ball for reverse swing later in an attempt to give the bowlers some encouragement.
Over 4: England 30/0 (Crawley 16 Duckett 12)
Apologies, for missing the first opening overs, we had some technical issues earlier but good news is that we are back underway.
Ali tries to veer into Duckett's pads and the England left-hander does not miss out. He clips the seamer brilliantly through the square leg for his second foor and the tourists' fifth of the morning. After being bowled straight again and Duckett taken two more runs down the leg-side. Ali then switches tactics to go around the wicket and bowls two dot ball to close out the over.
From Nick Hoult, at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium.
It has been a tumultuous 24 hours for England. If this match had been due to start on Wednesday they would not have been able to field an XI. But the illness that swept through the camp cleared this morning and there was only one change - Will Jacks given a debut in place of the sick Ben Foakes.
Jacks only found out half an hour before he was presented with his cap that he would be playing. Ollie Pope will keep wicket, Jacks bat at eight behind LIam Livingstone, who also makes a debut. England will be relieved it is only one change given where they were this time yesterday but losing their specialist keeper is a blow on pitches where chances are few and far between.
England XI: Zak Crawley, Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope (wk), Joe Root, Harry Brook, Ben Stokes (capt), Will Jacks, Liam Livingstone, Ollie Robinson, Jack Leach, James Anderson.
The hosts already announced their side this morning with four debutants selected in Haris Rauf, Mohammad Ali, Saud Shakeel and Zahid Mahmood, as they host England for the first time in 17 years.
Pakistan starting XI: Abdullah Shafique, Imam Ul Haq, Azhar Ali, Babar Azam (capt), Saud Shakeel, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Agha Salman, Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf, Mohammad Ali, Zahid, Mahmood
Ben Stokes has shrugged off his illness and is fit to lead his side. The all-rounder won the toss and has elected to bat, clearly wanting to make first use of the pitch.
Welcome to live coverage of day one of this first Test between England and Sri Lanka live from the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium.
For the first time since 2005, England travel to Pakistan for a Test series in what is sure to be an exciting contest that will really test Ben Stokes’ side on their first foray abroad since a successful red-ball English summer.
However, preparations for this first Test have hit have been hampered virus which has swept through the England camp and the Test could have been put back 24 hours with a decision made a few hours ago before the scheduled start of play.
But's good news from the England camp, is that we will start as planned today with the tourists able to field an XI. What exact XI remains to be seen but we don't have to wait too long until we find out with the toss imminent.
One player who has not caught the bug as of yet, is England’s star batter Joe Root and it’s important to take into account his formidable record in the subcontinent and especially how well he plays against spin, as proven in the past couple of years in both Sri Lanka and India.
With that in mind, backing Root to score 79.5 runs looks a smart play on what may well be a very flat pitch in Rawalpindi, the same ground which hosted a high-scoring draw earlier in the year between Pakistan and Australia, 1187 runs being scored in that Test.
In regards to this particular Test, England’s bowling attacks looks light with the injury to Mark Wood and they have opted to select a deep batting line-up with plenty of depth, emphasised by Test debutant Liam Livingstone being set to bat at Number 8. Pakistan bowlers boast the pace required to cause the tourists some serious problems, but taking 20 wickets won’t be an easy task for them. Therefore, consider backing the draw.
We will bring you the toss, team news and over-by-over coverage live from the first test in Rawalpindi.