Sussex give Pakistanis a testing day

Pakistanis 363 for 5 dec and 71 for 1 (Masood 38*) lead Sussex 291 for 5 dec (Finch 103, Wells 93) by 143 runs

If it was not already clear, the second day at Hove reinforced how crucial Mohammad Amir and Yasir Shah are to Pakistan's hopes in the Test series against England. Sussex's openers, Luke Wells and Harry Finch, added 212 for the first wicket before they declared 72 runs behind, offering Pakistanis the chance to see how keen they are for a proper game on the final day.

Mickey Arthur, Pakistan's head coach, had billed this match a "bowl-off" to support Amir and Yasir with two places "up for grabs". The ball did not swing conventionally before lunch and the lines were not consistent which enabled Finch and Wells to make a flyer: the fifty up in the eighth over, 120 in 27 by lunch.

In the first session it was a case of who bowled least worse but in the hour before tea Wahab Riaz - probably playing-off against Rahat Ali for a spot unless Pakistan decide on three left-armers - provided a reminder of the danger that can be posed almost out of nowhere when the older ball starts to move.

Wells was the first to fall when Wahab, who overstepped 10 times striving for pace, returned for his second spell of the day, his first from the Cromwell Road End, and started to find reverse swing with impressive pace: he will never be a bowler picked for economy, but he has the ability to rattle the batsmen. Wells drove flat-footed at a full delivery, edging behind seven short of a century, then Matt Machan was almost yorked first ball before being beaten by his second delivery.

Finch, opening the batting for the first time in first-class cricket, reached his century in Wahab's next over, when he square-drove his 16th boundary, but two balls later was tempted into driving a full delivery and edged to slip.

At the Sea End, Imran Khan - a name that adorned this ground in the late 1970s and 1980s - picked up a brace himself, although they owed a little more to the batsmen's errors. Machan was lbw after a horrid swipe across the line then Ben Brown drove loosely at his first ball: 212 without loss had become 233 for 4 in the blink of an eye. Imran had earlier struggled for rhythm as he ran up the hill, at one point delivering three consecutive no-balls.

Sohail Khan may still be ahead of Imran in the queue for the right-arm seamer's role having bowled well against Somerset. Although his figures here were expensive, he produced some sturdy spells, especially one during the afternoon when he troubled Wells, having him edge between first and second slip on 62 and then beating him three times in an over.

Wells' innings was a continuation of a strong run of form for the tall left-hander who had made 181 last week against Glamorgan. His fifty off 54 balls included 10 boundaries and seven more followed before Wahab found his edge.

Finch, whose previous first-class hundred had come against Leeds/Bradford MCCU at the start of this season, gave one chance on 64 when he drove low to short cover off Zulfiqar Babar, but he was particularly impressive on the front foot. His century also included three sixes, one a cut over the short off-side boundary off Imran.

Another issue for Pakistan, which England will be keen to exploit by keeping them in the field, is the lack of a proper fifth-bowling option. Azhar Ali trundled down a few overs of legspin while Asad Shafiq also had an over, but there will be a lot resting on four frontline bowlers. Yasir will have to keep it tight to allow the quicks to rotate; England will want to push Amir into his fourth and fifth spells of a day to test his endurance having played little multi-day cricket since his comeback.

Having come in to face a hat-trick ball on first-class debut, Philip Salt played positively after tea before Craig Cachopa was given lbw on the front foot to Zulfiqar to bring the declaration with 24 overs left in the day.

For the fourth time on the tour, Mohammad Hafeez reached double figures but not much further when, on 23, he pulled Jofra Archer to deep square leg. As a senior batsman, Pakistan will need Hafeez to lift his game in the Tests to ensure Azhar Ali and Younis Khan are not constantly exposed to the new ball.

Shan Masood reached the close unbeaten on 38 but was never entirely convincing. Having given the same top seven both these warm-up matches, Pakistan have set their stall out for the opening Test but, as far as the first-wicket pair are concerned, they will enter more in hope than expectation.

  • Wahab Riaz targets England's 'fragile' middle order

    Wahab Riaz has said that England's middle order is "fragile" ahead of the first Test at Lord's and believes Pakistan can put pressure on them

  • Sussex give Pakistanis a testing day

    Sussex's openers, Luke Wells and Harry Finch, added 212 for the first wicket on the second day of the tour game, underlining how important Mohammad Amir and Yasir Shah are to the visitors' plans in the Tests

  • Azhar tunes up with another century

    Azhar Ali made his second century in two innings as they eased to 363 for 5 while Misbah-ul-Haq spent useful time in the middle albeit against a weakened Sussex attack