Buttler, Bess resist Pakistan's victory bid over England
LONDON (AP) — Pakistan's bid for a victory inside three days over England in the first test was thwarted by an unbeaten 125-run stand between Jos Buttler and debutant Dom Bess at Lord's on Saturday.
Trailing by 179 runs after the first innings, England slumped to 110-6 and Pakistan had a session to finish off the home side with two days to spare.
Buttler (66), a limited-overs specialist, and Bess (55), a 20-year-old spinner, displayed the kind of diligence and discipline that the top order lacked to earn England a 56-run lead by the close of play on a beautiful day in northwest London.
England was 235-6 at stumps.
Pakistan is still the big favorite to go 1-0 ahead in the two-test series, but the tourists at least will have to work for the victory.
"We wanted to scrap hard, and try and get ourselves back in the game," said Buttler, whose 130-ball innings has been unusually measured and mostly risk-free for a player who arrived straight from the Indian Premier League. He hasn't played any red-ball cricket since December.
"With Dom Bess, it was like Joe Root walked back out, with his back foot punches and cover drives," Buttler added. "He's got a great character and he really showed that."
Bess has struck more boundaries than Buttler — eight as opposed to six — but also knuckled down in the late-afternoon sunshine, giving England the slightest glimmer of ending a run of seven tests without a win.
The evening session was maybe the first Pakistan has lost all test.
Pakistan began the day by adding 13 runs to its overnight 350-8 before being bowled out for 363 in reply to England's disappointing first-innings total of 184, which ended with the last five wickets falling for just 16 runs.
Mohammad Amir was left stranded on 24 not out. Babar Azam was unable to bat Saturday after being forced to retire hurt on 68 after tea on Friday, having been struck on the forearm by a delivery from Ben Stokes. Checks revealed a fracture and he was ruled out of the remainder of this test and for the second and final test in Leeds.
England's second innings started badly, with Alastair Cook — top-scorer in the first innings with 70 — trapped lbw by seamer Mohammad Abbas for 1. Just before lunch, left-hander Mark Stoneman (9) rocked back to a delivery from legspinner Shadab Khan, only for the ball to keep low and spin into the stumps.
It was another failure for Stoneman, who was struggling for form coming into the test and scored just 13 runs in two innings at Lord's.
England has been prone to batting implosions in recent years and another arrived in the middle session, when four wickets fell in 38 balls.
Dawid Malan (12) and Jonny Bairstow (0) fell to Amir in the space of three balls, before Ben Stokes (9) pulled an innocuous delivery from Shadab to midwicket 17 balls later. Then came the big one — captain Root — who was trapped lbw Abbas for 68.
Buttler and Bess spared England from embarrassment by ensuring the team didn't lose by an innings and pushed on from there, surviving through to the close.