Yasir keeps it simple to bamboozle England

In the past 20 years, only two legspinners have worked their way onto the famous honours boards at Lord's, and both of them have been on duty for Pakistan in this Test match. While Yasir Shah's exemplary blend of threat and control proved too much for England's middle order on a gripping second day of the first Test, there's no doubting the influence that his forebear had on the strategies that have, so far, proved so fruitful.

Mushtaq Ahmed, after all, was sitting on the other side of the pavilion not so long ago, passing on his wisdom to the likes of Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar during his stint as England's spin-bowling coach. But, with Adil Rashid still a work in progress back then, and Scott Borthwick making a quiz-question of a debut in the last match of that association (at Sydney in January 2014), Mushy had all too few of his true ilk to get his teeth into during his six years with the ECB.

Yasir, on the other hand, is a chip off a familiar block. Not so much in terms of technique, maybe - his action has always had more shades of Shane Warne, while his execution today brought to mind Anil Kumble's command of length and bounce. But in terms of the strategies and the wiles that Yasir brought to his day's work, you could hear Mushy's cogs whirring on the balcony on his behalf as, for the second day running, a first-time visitor to Lord's produced a pitch-perfect performance to etch his name into the ground's history.

"We were focusing on what the fast bowlers would do," said Yasir at the close. "But luckily, I got the five wickets - and I'm glad for the team.

"My role, from the coaches, was very clear - to give support to the fast bowlers. I was concentrating on repeating my action again and again - and my natural variation helped me get the five wickets."

That is, after all, the benefit of the preparations that Pakistan have been able and willing to put into this Test match. Yasir's grasp of English is no match for his grasp of the conditions, and so it was left to his coach to provide a running translation of his thoughts. However, thanks to that training camp in Lahore and that extra week of acclimatization down in Hampshire, nothing was lost in translation from the hot, arid conditions of the UAE in November, where Yasir picked up 15 wickets at 21.53 in the home campaign against England.

"He was very excited when we arrived here in the UK," said Mushtaq. "There was lots of talk about how successful he had been in the UAE, but he was very focused. The camp we had for 10-15 days before the tour started really helped because the Dukes ball is not easy to hold, we really worked hard on gripping the ball and he was just concentrating on his line and length."

It was a simple message, exemplarily delivered. For Mushtaq's experience of Lord's isn't simply limited to his role in two famous Pakistan wins, in 1992 and 1996. With his illustrious career with Sussex adding to his knowledge, he hoovered up the grand total of 42 wickets at 19.88 from nearly 2000 deliveries at the ground, and so was perfectly placed to impart the subtleties that might have otherwise have eluded Yasir.

"We've been talking about the ends, and the angles," Mushtaq said. "How, in the first innings, you want to bowl from the Pavilion End because you get lots of drift [down the slope], so you can get lots of lbws and bowleds. But sometimes you've got to give credit to the bowler, because he's bowled that spell brilliantly. "

Of that there is no doubt. The tone of England's innings certainly had a traditional feel where contests against Pakistan are concerned. First came a solid second-wicket stand of 110 between Alastair Cook and Joe Root that established visions of healthy leads and second-innings pressure; then came an injudicious stroke as Root sized up his fifty with a mow over the leg side, top-edged to midwicket and triggered a tumble of 6 for 114.

Yasir's contribution to that calamity was the small matter 5 for 51 in his first 20.2 overs in a Test outside of Asia. "I am giving all the credit to Yasir Shah," said Mushtaq. "Joe Root is one of the best players, and plays spin very well, Cookie has one of the best records in Asia so he plays spin really well. Yasir got the wickets because he created better pressure than other people."

"All credit to him, but I think we'll be a little bit disappointed with a couple of the dismissals," admitted Chris Woakes, whose own maiden entry on the honours boards had been somewhat overshadowed by the close. "Cooky and Rooty played very well to get us into a good position but unfortunately Rooty wouldn't have been too happy with the manner of his dismissal. We probably gave him one or two [wickets], but all in all, he bowled pretty well too."

There was, however, a large dollop of naivety in England's approach that doesn't augur well for their prospects as the contest progresses. Root can be pardoned for his aggression because England have been given licence to back their abilities - "If he had hit that for six or a one-bounce four to the midwicket boundary we'd have all been clapping on the balcony," said Woakes - but, as Wahab Riaz intimated in the build-up to the series, the frailties of the middle order didn't look like resolving themselves in a desperate hurry.

James Vince had arguably betrayed his anxieties with his body language in the slip cordon on the first day as he once again departed without convincing, and if Moeen Ali could count himself as the victim of a "bold" piece of umpiring, the ease with which Yasir slid a quicker ball through a flaccid cut from Jonny Bairstow, England's form player of the Test summer to date, was mildly troubling. After all, it was two decades ago that Alec Stewart famously encountered Warne's flipper at the WACA. You'd have thought forewarned would be forearmed by now.

"He's got a couple to turn and a couple to slide, which is the tricky one, do you play for the turn or the one that goes straight on?" said Woakes. "We'll have to go back to the drawing board. We are a very honest group, we'll sit down and talk about how to go forward, and obviously how to play him not only tomorrow but also the rest of the Test series too."

"It was very simple," added Yasir. "If you can look after your basics right, and put lots of revs on the ball, sometimes those give you the variation. If one ball hits the seam, like with Gary Ballance, it will spin, so that gave me the confidence to do it again and again. I knew that lots of good overs would give me a wicket."

"In UAE you have to bowl quicker because off the pitch batsmen can read you and they can play a good ball on the back foot. Here in England, because the pitches have some pace, obviously I am going to vary my pace. I was just concentrating on line. And I was trying to spin the ball as much as I can."

Talking of Warne - who, of course, never quite managed a five-for at Lord's despite several near-misses in his four visits - there was an amusing diversion from the onfield action shortly after Yasir had claimed his place in the annals. Bashing his keys on Twitter, in a slightly cack-handed attempts to praise a fellow craftsman, Warne attempted on two occasions to claim that a mystery conversation had been the key to Yasir's success, but deleted both drafts before settling for a more prosaic: "Congrats Yasir Shah on your 5 wicket haul, it's great to see you bowl so well & deliver your skills!"

And that begged the question, if it takes even Warne three attempts to find the correct response to a successful spell of legspin, what hope do England have when it comes to the fourth innings?

Woakes, however, has shown - in his top-and-tailing of the day, first with the ball and then with a doughty and vital 31 not out in partnership with Stuart Broad - that resistance is far from futile.

"We are still in a decent position in the Test match, we are by no means out of it," he said. "Me and Broady have an important job in the morning, to get close to Pakistan and maybe past them. If we do get a lead, the pressure's right back on them, and then it's up to us to bowl well and try to skittle them out."