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Rain and Bad Light the Only Winners

For the second Test, at Southampton, England knew they would have to make one change to their side, with Ben Stokes returning to New Zealand for family reasons; into his place, as expected, came Zak Crawley, enabling Joe Root to drop down to his favoured No 4 in the order. There was also one change among the bowlers. Some had wondered if James Anderson or Jofra Archer (or both) might be left out, with Sam Curran and Mark Wood waiting in the wings. With England still a bit light on batting, it was no surprise that it was Curran who was called into the side, and Archer was the man to be left out.


For Pakistan, Shadab Khan as a second spinner was deemed surplus to requirements, and his place went to Fawad Alam, returning to the Test scene for the first time since 2009 – at 88 Tests and 10 years and 259 days, it was the second longest interval between Tests for any Pakistani player (behind Younus Ahmed, who was away from the scene between 1969 and 1987).


After all the debate about Anderson’s future, it was perhaps inevitable that he would strike as early as his second over, trapping Shan Masood in front for just 1. Broad should have had one straight after, but Abid Ali was dropped in the slips on 2. Conditions favoured the bowlers, with the ball swinging in humid, cloudy conditions. Then on 40 for one, Burns dropped a straightforward chance at second slip off Woakes to give Azhar Ali a life. Just before lunch, the umpires took the players off with the score on 62 for one – it wasn’t to be the last interruption.


Soon after the break, an edge to the keeper off Anderson wasn’t heard by anyone other than Joe Root, who decided against reviewing when he should have done. England were really not doing themselves any favours. Finally, with the score on 78, Azhar edged Anderson and this time Burns held on in the slips – it felt a long overdue success. With heavy clouds menacing, the umpires took the players off before the heavens opened, but just before 4pm they were back on and Abid reached his fifty off 99 balls with yet another edge through the slips. He didn’t go much further, falling for 60 as Burns picked up another in the slips, this time off Curran. Asad Shafiq was out early to Broad, edging to Dom Sibley in the slips, and at 117 for four the balance was tipping back to England.


Fawad was next in, but his stay was very brief as Woakes had him LBW on review without scoring. Those who hadn’t seen his stance at the crease before were probably still coming to terms with his approach of pointing his toes straight down the pitch. Keeper Mohammad Rizwan needed to give Babar Azam some support, but the rain came to save them with the score on 126 for five at the close of play.


There was a 90-minute delay at the start of the second day, with conditions very much in favour of swing bowling and in the hour to lunch they added 29 runs without loss, which was a fine effort in the circumstances. England didn’t have long to wait in the afternoon until the crucial wicket of Babar fell for 47, Broad finding the edge through to the keeper with a lovely delivery. Rizwan almost followed him when he edged a hook shot, but Buttler couldn’t quite hold on. Yasir Shah, who had been flirting outside the off stump, didn’t last long, edging Anderson to Buttler.


Pakistan’s innings looked to be subsiding away when Shaheen Shah Afridi backed up too far and Sibley threw down the stumps at the bowler’s end from the slip cordon: 176 for eight. Rizwan realised he had to play his shots and went into impressive one-day mode, reaching his fifty in 104 balls, his second highest Test score. Mohammad Abbas blocked at one end, surviving an LBW shout on umpire’s call, then edging just short of Root.


Soon after, the umpires took the players off for bad light and an early tea with the partnership worth 39, Abbas scoring just two of them. First ball from Broad after the break and Abbas was LBW. It was a significant wicket, as it was the seventh successive innings he had taken three or more wickets. Only six other England bowlers had ever achieved this feat, most recently Graeme Swann in 2009 (with Gough, Botham, Bedser, Tate and Barnes the others, the latter two extending their run to eight innings). Just nine deliveries were bowled in the evening session before the umpires took the players off again for bad light and the day finished with the score on 223 for nine. The ICC rules on bad light are hugely frustrating in these circumstances.


Day Three was the first day ever to be entirely lost at Southampton, and Day Four was hardly any better, with Rizwan and Naseem Shah putting on a further 13 runs to take their side up to 236 all out. Broad, almost inevitably, took the wicket – a leading edge that ballooned into the covers – to give him figures of four for 56. This summer he has 26 at an average of 12.38 in seven innings – a remarkable record. England’s reply began with Rory Burns edging the first ball a few inches short of the slips, but his fourth delivery did carry to Shafiq, who made no mistake off the bowling of Afridi. Sibley and Crawley battled gamely against some excellent bowling, and after five overs had been played the umpires took them off before the rain came, with the score on 7 for one. And that was the last of the day’s action.


Heavy overnight rain meant the final day of the Test was also seriously curtailed. Sibley and Crawley ensured there were no alarms, putting on 91 together before the latter was LBW for 52. Sibley followed soon after for 32 and then Ollie Pope was LBW for 9. England finished on 110 for four. With less than 135 overs possible in the entire match, Rizwan’s 72 saw him named as Man of the Match, ahead of Broad for his four wickets.