England vs Pakistan: Dominic Bess leads the way as home side build solid lead at Headingley

IN the first ten days of his England career, Dominic Bess has smiled, entertained with his chat and scored 57 and 49 in consecutive innings.

Not bad for a 20-year-old novice who was chosen only because his mate from Somerset was injured.

 Dominic Bess impressed again with the bat, scoring 49 as nightwatchman

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Dominic Bess impressed again with the bat, scoring 49 as nightwatchman

At some point, Bess will hope to take a wicket or two because that’s the real reason he is in the team. He is a bowler.

Bess fell one short of a half-century on day two of the Second Test after going in as nightwatchman on the first evening. He batted with poise and polish and with plenty of skill.

As former captain Nasser Hussain, commentating on Sky TV, said: “If you turned up today and didn’t know anything about this England team, you’d think Bess was their No.4. He doesn’t look out of place there.”

Bess’ innings, plus several other useful contributions, confirmed England’s dominance of this match as they attempt to level the series following the disaster of Lord’s.

England finished day two with 302-7 – a lead of 128 runs – but no batsman has yet registered a half-century.

In fact, England could even break a record because the highest total in Test cricket without anyone reaching fifty is 315 by England against West Indies in Trinidad in 1986.

 Joe Root was disappointed to be dismissed for 45 on day two

Reuters
Joe Root was disappointed to be dismissed for 45 on day two
 Saturday's morning session was washed out in Leeds

Reuters
Saturday's morning session was washed out in Leeds

David Gower top scored with 47 although there were 59 extras in the innings. So far here, Pakistan have conceded 17 extras.

Jos Buttler has a chance to reach fifty and will resume this morning with 34 not out.

There is no doubt Bess is relishing his elevation to the international stage after county colleague left-arm spinner Jack Leach was ruled out the series with a broken thumb.

Some players are intimidated by the pressure and spotlight but Bess seems to be inspired.

He is not primarily a batsman, of course, he is an off-spin bowler and he will be very aware he had a nought-for on his debut at Lord’s.

So the question remains – can he bowl?

 Mohammad Amir celebrates the wicket of Joe Root

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Mohammad Amir celebrates the wicket of Joe Root
 Dawid Malan plays a sweep shot on day two at Headingley

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Dawid Malan plays a sweep shot on day two at Headingley

Well, with a dry pitch at Headingley likely to offer increasing turn, he could in the next couple of days have a chance to prove that he can.

After morning rain, play began at 2.45 and England soon lost Joe Root when the captain edged an attempted drive at the dangerous Mohammad Amir.

Root didn’t fail to convert a fifty into a century this time but he made 45. Another opportunity for a big score squandered.

Dawid Malan couldn’t counter a delivery from Amir that bounced and he was caught at first slip via the shoulder of the bat.

Bess finally perished when he tried to play a dab shot against wrist-spinner Shadab Khan and the extra bounce meant he succeeded only in steering the ball to slip.

 Jos Buttler's evening cameo helped England build a solid first-innings lead

Reuters
Jos Buttler's evening cameo helped England build a solid first-innings lead

Jonny Bairstow was another who got in but could not make a significant contribution. On his home ground, Bairstow was caught behind from the final delivery of the 80th over.

Chris Woakes fell to a beauty with the second new ball, edging Mohammad Abbas and giving Sarfraz Ahmed his fifth catch of the innings.

Buttler was badly dropped on four by Hasan Ali at mid-wicket off Shadab and he increased the bowler’s pain by striking the next ball for four.

Buttler and debutant Sam Curran, who struck a couple of sumptuous boundaries in the final over of the day, have the power to help England to add more runs to their already big lead and make sure the series finishes 1-1.

IN the first ten days of his England career, Dominic Bess has smiled, entertained with his chat and scored 57 and 49 in consecutive innings.