SOUTHAMPTON: Pakistan’s luck ran out as captain Azhar Ali was dismissed after lunch before rain stopped play on the first day of the second Test against England in Southampton on Thursday.
Azhar, who was nearly out for seven, fell for 20 when he edged paceman James Anderson and second slip Rory Burns, who had already dropped a catch, held onto a low chance.
His dismissal meant Azhar had made just one fifty in 11 innings since replacing Sarfaraz Ahmed as Test captain last November.
The Pakistan skipper had come under pressure both as a result of his own form and for the tactics he employed last week during a decisive stand of 139 between Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes that saw England come from behind to win the first Test at Old Trafford by three wickets.
As Azhar walked off, a thunder clap echoed round the Ageas Bowl and soon afterwards rain stopped play with Pakistan 85-2.
Abid Ali, dropped twice in the slips, was 49 not out.
Anderson, who had figures of 2-24 in 12 overs, was now just eight wickets away from becoming the first paceman to take 600 Test wickets.
Pakistan, 1-0 down in the three-match series, were soon in trouble at 6-1 after Azhar won the toss.
By his own admission, Anderson — England’s all-time leading Test wicket-taker — had not been at his best at Old Trafford last week. He came into this match having taken just six wickets in three Tests this season at an expensive average of over 41 apiece.
But England captain Joe Root said on the eve of this match: “To question Jimmy’s ability and his record — do that at your own peril.”
And in humid conditions conducive to Anderson’s swing bowling, the 38-year-old paceman brought one back into Shan Masood to have the left-handed opener, fresh from his Test-best 156 last week, lbw for one.
Pakistan should have been 7-2 but Abid, on one, was reprieved when third slip Dom Sibley dropped an edge off Stuart Broad.
Azhar was on seven when, playing defensively at in-form all-rounder Woakes, the ball trickled onto his stumps without dislodging the bails.
Woakes suffered again when Abid, on 21, got an outside edge only for Burns to drop a slip catch that should have been taken.
Pakistan’s Fawad Alam, 34, has been recalled for his first Test in over a decade. The inclusion of the forgotten left-handed batsman was the only change to the side as he replaced leg-spinning all-rounder Shadab Khan.
A prolific run-scorer in Pakistan domestic cricket, Fawad played the last of his three previous Tests — in which he averages over 41 — against New Zealand in Dunedin, back in November 2009.
England, bidding for a first series victory over Pakistan in a decade, made two changes for a match that is once more being played behind closed doors because of coronavirus.
As expected, batsman Zak Crawley returned in place of Ben Stokes after it was announced the star all-rounder would miss the final two matches of this series for personal reasons after travelling to New Zealand to be with his ill father.
Meanwhile fast bowler Jofra Archer was officially ‘rested’, with England in the middle of a gruelling schedule of six Tests in seven weeks following their 2-1 series win at home to the West Indies last month.
Archer’s place was taken by left-arm seamer Sam Curran, who has been on the winning side in all his previous eight home Tests and is also capable of scoring runs down the order.
PAKISTAN (1st Innings):
Shan Masood lbw b Anderson 1
Abid Ali not out 49
Azhar Ali c Burns b Anderson 20
Babar Azam not out 7
EXTRAS (B-4, LB-4) 8
TOTAL (for two wkts, 33.5 overs) 85
FALL OF WKTS: 1-6, 2-78.
TO BAT: Asad Shafiq, Fawad Alam, Mohammad Rizwan, Yasir Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Mohammad Abbas, Naseem Shah.
BOWLING (to-date): Anderson 12-3-24-2; Broad 10-4-21-0; Curran 5.5-0-11-0; Woakes 6-1-21-0
ENGLAND: R.J. Burns, D.P. Sibley, Z. Crawley, J.E. Root, O.J. Pope, J.C. Buttler, C.R. Woakes, S.M. Curran, D.M. Bess, S.C.J. Broad, J.M. Anderson.
UMPIRES: R.A. Kettleborough (England) and M.A. Gough (England).
TV UMPIRE: R.K. Illingworth (England).
MATCH REFEREE: B.C. Broad (England).
Published in Dawn, August 14th, 2020