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Pakistan have looked like the home side over the first two days at Lord's against England, playing controlled cricket and using the conditions to their advantage. That is no coincidence, according to coach Mickey Arthur, who believes the build-up that was done was invaluable in getting his team prepared.

Half-centuries from Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam and Shadab Khan saw them move from 50/1 overnight to 350/8 on day two, a commanding first-innings lead of 166 runs. England's bowlers found movement and used short-pitch bowling to try and make breakthroughs, but for the most part, like day one, it was Pakistan's day.

"We're incredibly happy with the position that we're in, but we know it's not finished yet. We've still got a hell of a lot of work to do," Arthur said.

Babar Azam top-scored with 68 before retiring hurt after being hit by a short ball from Ben Stokes
Babar Azam top-scored with 68 before retiring hurt after being hit by a short ball from Ben Stokes


"We've prepared really well. We had 10 days together in Lahore before we came out here. At the camp we had bowling machines firing away at the batsmen and we had our bowlers running in at them. We concentrated on playing the ball a lot later and playing it under our eyes. 

"Asad Shafiq, for example, his positions were outstanding and that's not something that happens by accident. There's a lot of hard work that goes into that."

The Pakistan batsmen played sensibly, leaving well outside their off-stump, preferring to score from anything short or off line from England's four pace bowlers. Azhar and Haris Sohail saw off the dangerous first hour before the middle order - barring captain Sarfraz Ahmed, who was out to a poor shot - capitalised with steady scoring.

Asad Shafiq showed good attacking intent against off-spinner Dom Bess
Asad Shafiq showed good attacking intent against off-spinner Dom Bess


The only blemish on a great day for the visitors was the fact no batsman went on to make a big score, and Arthur did concede that was a minor gripe. 

"That is slightly disappointing," he said. "But I've always felt that there's a little bit in this wicket. Batters have said they felt they haven't really felt in on it. The killer innings is played once you're set and the ball isn't doing much, but there was always something on offer. The England bowlers bowled well; they were disciplined and kept balls in the right areas long enough to cause the ball to do something.

"I was so impressed with the way we fought as a unit. We fought really hard. We wanted runs from everybody - we asked for them this morning - and numbers seven and eight (Shadab and Faheem) came to the party. Amir at nine did a really good job for us and we hope we can get Babar out tomorrow morning and hope there are still another 25 runs out there for us."

It was a difficult day in the field for England, who saw several catches go down
It was a difficult day in the field for England, who saw several catches go down


On the other side of the coin it was a chastening day for England, with Pakistan's resilience matched by sloppy fielding which saw chances go begging. Ben Stokes, in particular, chipped away, while each of James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Mark Wood had their moments, but ultimately it was a second day on the spin which they found themselves chasing the game. 

"It was a hard day of graft for us," said Wood, who took figures of 1/74 from his 22 overs. "It's a tough one because you don't want to go searching for wickets, but at the same time you've got an eye on the score and you think 'we need wickets'.

"You've got to process that we're trying to keep it tight and be aggressive and attacking. It's quite hard to get the balance right, I feel, when you've got a low total on the board."