SOUTHAMPTON: Pakistan’s Mohammad Abbas took two wickets on Monday as a weather-interrupted second Test against England at Southampton ended in a predictable draw. England were 110-4 in reply to Pakistan’s first innings 236 when home captain Joe Root (nine not out) declared to hasten the end of a match ahead of what would have been the statutory last hour.
Root’s move ended the shortest Test in England, in terms of balls bowled, since a rain-affected draw between England and Pakistan at Lord’s in 1987. Abbas, who took 2-28 from 14 overs, removed Zak Crawley (53) and Dom Sibley (32).
England, who enjoyed a three-wicket win in the first Test at Old Trafford earlier this month, remain 1-0 up in a three-match series ahead of Friday’s finale, also at Southampton. “It has been frustrating for both teams,” Pakistan captain Azhar Ali told Sky Sports. “The game was set quite nicely, with conditions good for bowling throughout — the total we got, we thought would be very competitive but, unfortunately, the weather was the winner in the end.”
Umpires Richard Kettleborough and Michael Gough had been widely criticised for their interpretation of the rules regarding rain and bad light, even on a ground where the floodlights have been in use, with former England captain Nasser Hussain saying that “merely because conditions are not ideal is not a reason to walk off the field”.
Root, while happy to still be 1-0 up, suggested England could follow the example of other Test-match countries by being flexible with their start time in the event of bad weather, rather than sticking rigidly to 1000 GMT and trying to make up lost time later in the day.
“Potentially, in England, we may be able to start half an hour earlier,” he said. Pakistan’s Mohammad Rizwan was named man of the match for his fine 72 in overcast conditions that made batting difficult. “The England bowling attack is a brilliant attack, with the experience of (Stuart) Broad and (James) Anderson,” said Azhar. “The guys stuck to the task.” Rizwan added: “I was looking forward to a good contest – we’ve worked hard for it but unfortunately we couldn’t play the full game.”
START DELAYED AGAIN
An early morning downpour meant Monday’s play did not start until 1420 GMT. England were then 7-1 after Rory Burns was out for a duck on Sunday. Sibley was two not out and Crawley, playing after star all-rounder Ben Stokes opted out to be with his ill father in New Zealand, five not out. Crawley, beneath sunny blue skies, confidently pulled and drove the usually accurate Abbas for two elegant fours.
Azhar, perhaps wary of risking his frontline quicks in a dead match ahead of the third Test, brought medium-pacer Shan Masood, an opening batsman, into the attack. Rizwan, who had impressed behind the stumps in the first Test, missed a chance to stump Crawley, on 37, off leg-spinner Yasir Shah. Crawley completed a 97-ball fifty when he pulled Yasir for four. But two balls later, Crawley was out when Abbas, with the first delivery of a new spell, had him lbw on the back leg after nipping one off the seam.
Crawley reviewed but the decision was upheld on umpire’s call. It was the start of a slump that saw England lose three wickets for 14 runs. Sibley, not for the first time, was caught behind down the legside as Abbas struck again before Ollie Pope was lbw to Yasir. Azhar bowled one ball to Root, who then declared. Victory in the third Test would mean Pakistan have still not lost a series against England in 10 years. – AFP