Pakistan 126 for 5 (Azam 25*, Rizwan 4*) v England
James Anderson repaid England’s faith, doing all he could to demonstrate he was back in rhythm even if a rain-hampered opening day of the second Test against Pakistan was far more erratic.
Anderson’s two wickets on a day when a heatwave-breaking storm allowed only 45.4 overs helped England close in a comfortable position after a frustrating start, caused by their own poor fielding rather than the weather.
Anderson played the role of starved attack dog to perfection, snaring a wicket with his eighth ball of the match to remove Shan Masood for a seventh time in five Tests. Masood top-scored in a losing cause for Pakistan at Old Trafford, while Anderson had a torrid time with match figures of 1 for 97, which he said left him hungry for wickets to put things right.
England believed Anderson, their veteran seamer who is now just eight away from claiming 600 career Test wickets, deserved every opportunity to do so and he was effectively the first name on the team sheet if Joe Root’s pre-match comments were anything to go by. He responded almost immediately with a curving inswinger that left Masood with no alternative but to lay bat on ball and, when he failed, he was out plumb lbw for just 1.
A tough period for England ensued as the bowlers beat the outside edge several times for no reward and, worse, watched two chances go down in the slips cordon and another couple of near misses.
With Pakistan having won the toss, opener Abid Ali received two lives, first on 1 when he was dropped by Dom Sibley at third slip off the bowling of Stuart Broad, and then on 21 when Rory Burns made a meal of a juggled catch at second.
Sam Curran, in the side for a resting Jofra Archer but also to bolster England’s batting in the absence of Ben Stokes, almost had Azhar Ali out for 11 but the edge failed to carry to Root at first slip.
After rain brought an early lunch, Anderson then lured Azhar, unbeaten on 20, into an extravagant drive, and appeared to find an edge for caught behind but England declined to review. When replays indicated a small spike on UltraEdge, it looked like another opportunity lost.
Azhar and Abid put on 72 runs together but their luck finally ran out. Anderson broke through when Burns held on to an edge and Azhar departed for 20, extending a lean run for the Pakistan captain who has managed just one score of note – a century against Sri Lanka – in 17 innings since late December 2018.
The storm that was expected to end southern England’s week-long swelter duly arrived and play was held up for 80 minutes with Abid stranded on 49. He brought up his fifty shortly after the resumption with an edge off Anderson that pierced the cordon and went for two.
Curran removed Abid for 60 with an excellent ball that jagged away after shaping into the batsman and found a thick edge, again snapped up by Burns.
As if to prove he was well and truly back, Anderson put his 38-year-old body on the line to stop Babar Azam’s drive off good mate Broad, diving to his left at mid-on. Broad bowled very well and and claimed his reward when he had Asad Shafiq caught low by a bending, relieved Sibley at third slip.
Shafiq’s departure brought Fawad Alam to the crease for the first time in a Test since 2009. But his long-awaited return was so very short-lived when he fell for a four-ball duck, lbw to Chris Woakes via the DRS after umpire Richard Kettleborough gave him not out but Hawk-Eye showed that the ball, which pitched just on leg stump, was going on to strike the top of middle.
Fewer than two overs followed with Azam not out 25 and Mohammad Rizwan on 4 when the rain returned and bad light ultimately brought about stumps with half the overs for the day bowled.