Four batters crushed hundreds as England racked up the runs on a scintillating opening day of the first Test against Pakistan at Rawalpindi.
On a historic occasion – England’s first Test in Pakistan for 17 years – the tourists broke records with a jaw-dropping strike.
Zak Crawley’s 122 included hitting triple figures from 86 balls, the fastest hundred tests by an England flyhalf.
Ben Duckett scored his first Test in six years with his first hundred, making 107 as the openers shared 233 for the first wicket.
When they fell, Ollie Pope took over with 108, adding 176 with Harry Brook stealing the show by beating England’s all-time third fastest cent.
Brook took his first Test ton from 80 balls and took England to 506-4, the most runs a team had ever scored on the first day of a Test.
All this after the match was given the green light to start just two and a half hours before the scheduled start following an illness that ravaged the England camp on Wednesday.
Of the XI that was named on Tuesday, only wicketkeeper Ben Foakes was deemed unfit to play, leaving Pope to take over behind the stumps and allowing Will Jacks to come on for his Test debut alongside compatriot Liam Livingstone.
England lights up a historic day
England halted their tour of Pakistan after gunmen attacked the Sri Lanka side in 2009. After almost two decades away, it was a spectacular comeback.
If there was any doubt that England could replicate the style of swashbuckling that brought them so much success in the summer at home in away conditions, they were banned. with a dazzling striking game.
Whatever label the method was given – England don’t like the term ‘Bazball’ – it was not cavalier or reckless, but a perfect execution of positive intention on the flattest ground.
Crawley and Duckett added 100 in 13.5 overs, England’s fastest century opening stand. The 174 races they had at lunch was an England record for the first day of a Test. No other English team had ever reached 300 faster, no team in history had reached 400 or 500 faster.
England was helped by the hospitality of the hosts. A Pakistani side containing four debutants were lackluster on the ball and dismal on the pitch.
With Rawalpindi notoriously difficult ground on which to force a result, the blistering speed of England’s scoreline gave them a superb chance to go ahead in the three-game series.