England had Pakistan 53 for two on the first morning of the opening Test, with Jofra Archer and Chris Woakes doing the early damage.
Joe Root’s side had been invited to bowl first after he lost the toss, but moody skies and morning floodlights gave the hosts fair cause for encouragement at Emirates Old Trafford.
England decided against gambling on Ben Stokes’ nagging quad injury, selecting him as a specialist batsman in a side unchanged from the one which sealed a series win over the West Indies at the same ground a week ago.
Pakistan openers Shan Masood and Abid Ali showed sufficient composure to bat through the first hour for 32 without loss, both men beaten on the outside edge on a couple of occasions but sticking admirably to the task of seeing off James Anderson and Stuart Broad.
In the end it was the first-change bowlers, retained here ahead of Sam Curran and Mark Wood, who got England back into the conversation.
Archer, who created more headlines off the field than on it against the Windies, needed just seven deliveries to make his presence felt. After pushing the batsmen back in his first over, he started the second with a fuller ball at Abid, jagging it in off the pitch and pegging back off stump.
An absolute beauty from @JofraArcher! 🔥
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) August 5, 2020
He made his way back for 16, his exit made all the more frustrating by a brief rain shower which forced the sides off after only three more deliveries.
It was only a brief recess but within 10 minutes of the restart Woakes sent captain Azhar Ali for a more permanent trip to the pavilion. Looking to get off the mark with a flick to leg he was undone by Woakes’ unflinching control of line and length, thumped on the front pad and on his way after an unwise referral.
That brought star batsman Babar Azam to the crease to great anticipation but the welcome from Woakes was perfect, threatening both the outside edge and the bails as it snaked away.
Babar needed 15 balls to get off the mark, dropping a quick single to cover, as Woakes and Archer continued to stitch together a highly challenging spell before the break. Between them the seam duo sent down 14 overs for just 21 runs, drying up runs and gently cranking up the pressure.
Masood did well to soak up 80 balls for his 27no, with Babar taking lunch with four to his name.
The Test marked the start of an ICC experiment, with the TV umpire monitoring front foot no-balls but England were not pulled up for overstepping in the initial session.