With Pakistan winning the toss, the returning Mohammad Amir was presented with conditions he could hope to exploit. He was unlucky with a rejected lbw appeal against Jason Roy in his first over, then saw Roy chop past his stumps for four, but his luck appeared to be out by the time Alex Hales struck three consecutive fours in Amir's third over - the last flying in the air through a now-vacant second slip. The bowler's response was to switch to his to round the wicket and, two balls later, he duped Hales into driving tamely to mid-on with a slower cutter. A possibly salty send-off hinted at Amir's frustration.
Without tearing up trees, Hasan Ali has made a bit of an impact for Pakistan on his first tour. He has bowled with skiddy pace and a notable nous at the death - foxing a rampant Jos Buttler during the final over at Trent Bridge to the extent that England nearly missed out on setting a new record total. His celebrations, typically accompanied by a primal roar of delight, have also provided a touch of jazba. Here, after bowling Joe Root off an inside edge attempting an expansive drive, he produced a medley: arms spread, Shoaib Akhtar-style; then a downward fist pump, a la Brett Lee/Dale Steyn; followed by something of his own creation, a high-kick-and-hand-clap that would not have looked out of place in a musical.
Imad Wasim was not the first Wales-born cricketer to play an international in Cardiff - that honour goes to England women's Hannah Lloyd - but he became the first to take a wicket when Eoin Morgan chipped a full toss straight back to him. Imad spent the first couple of years of his life growing up in Swansea, so the people of Cardiff might have bridled at calling him one of their own given the rivalry between the two cities, but it was hard to spot the celebratory Welsh flags being waved among the numerous Pakistani ones in the stands.
Pakistan had recovered from the early loss of Sharjeel Khan with a smooth fifty stand between Azhar Ali and Babar Azam. Having previously taken one of the new balls for England, Mark Wood was this time held back due to the presence of David Willey in the XI but his introduction quickly changed the dynamic of the chase. His extra pace initially saw Azam top-edging over the slips for four and then, a few overs later, he went straight through Pakistan's No. 3 after going wide on the crease and firing the ball between bat and pad at 87mph. Two balls later, Azhar was gone as well, wafting at a short ball outside off; Simon Fry did not give it out on field but England reviewed immediately and DRS confirmed a thin edge to send the captain on his way.
During the 17th over, Ben Stokes ran in and clipped the non-striker's stumps as he brought his delivery arm through. While a few years ago - before Steven Finn's repeated issues led to a change in the laws - that would have simply lead to a call of dead ball, now it was signalled as a no-ball by the umpire, Rob Bailey, which meant a free hit as well, to rub in salt. Stokes' disgruntlement was registered by standing with his arms on his hips as Bailey returned to his spot; it then went up a notch as Shoaib Malik sliced the follow-up delivery for four to third man. To compound his mood, Root then put down a tough one-handed chance next ball as Malik drove to short extra cover.
The aborted run
Stokes was the bowler later in the innings when Malik again drove uppishly into the covers, though in front of the catcher on this occasion. The ball bounced to the left of mid-off but Morgan got to it quickly and, as Malik realised his partner, Sarfraz Ahmed, was not interested in a single, England's captain fired off a throw at the striker's end. Malik had by now turned and begun the desperate lunge for the line, only for the ball to hit him and deflect away to safety. England half-heartedly appealed for obstructing the field but there was no sense that Malik had changed his course purely to intercept the throw.
This was a real blinder, but it wasn't taken by any of the players. Chris Woakes' return in the 34th over was greeted by Sarfraz hammering a pull high over deep midwicket, where Stokes boundary-rope leap was to no avail. Someone did cling on to it, however, as a fan at the front of the grandstand leaned as far as he possibly could over the advertising boards to hold the catch a foot or two above the ground. Such was his excitement as he was engulfed in celebration by those around that Stokes eventually had to prise the ball from his grip - and it soon became clear why: due to the fact he was wearing a shirt sponsored by a beer company, the prize for his stupendous grab was a flight to Australia.