Azhar Ali dominates yet again as Pakistan get off to good start against Sussex
Pakistan vice-captain Azhar Ali continued his dream start to the England tour with his second century in as many innings with the visitors capitalising on his knock of 145 to propel to 363/5 before declaring their first innings at stumps on Day 1 of their warm-up game against Sussex. 21-year-old Jofra Archer, a former West Indies under-19 all-rounder, playing his first first-class game was the surprise hero for his county picking up four wickets.
Ali, who hit 101 in Pakistan’s opening tour game against Somerset, continued his fine form with the bat, reaching the three-figure mark in 2015 balls before pushing up the run-rate with some aggressive strokeplay. His knock which included 20 boundaries and a six, also saw him form two useful partnerships – first a 125-run stand for the third wicket with Younis Khan and a 146-run partnership with skipper Misbah-ul-Haq for the fourth.
Both Younis and Ali went past notable milestones during the course of their innings with the veteran batsman crossing 16000 first-class runs while Pakistan’s ODI skipper went past 8000 first-class runs. Ali's innings was all not flawless as he had a slice of fortune early on with Harry Finch failing to grab a touch chance at slips off another debutant, Abidine Sakande’s bowling. He was once again dropped while batting on 57 at deep mid-off.
But unlike Hafeez, who failed to capitalise after being dropped for 15, Ali made Sussex, who were fielding an under-strength side having taken part in a Natwest T20 Blast game hours earlier, pay. Hafeez’s dismissal for 17, along with fellow opener Shan Masood’s dismissal for just four, added to the worries the Pakistan team management have regarding their opening combination.
Archer was the undoubted revelation for Sussex though as his four scalps included those of Misbah and Ali, both with the second new ball. A bowler of high promise, Archer has made no secret of his desire to represent England in the future at the international level and he was clearly ecstatic at the how the first day of his first-class debut went.
"I hope I've put my foot in the door," he said. "The coach said just enjoy it, but I was a bit nervous."
Sussex have got their reply off to a quick start with openers Harry Finch and Luke Wells adding 31 runs between them in just five overs.