A win at Old Trafford left England ready to face Pakistan for the second time, with the hopes of securing another victory to win the series. However, some dodgy weather in the forecast ensured uncertainty about how much play would actually happen at the AGEAS Bowl where the remaining two matches of the series were to be played.
Both teams had some notable changes for the second test with the major news being the absence of Ben Stokes who was forced to fly to New Zealand for family reasons; Zak Crawley was his replacement. Jofra Archer was rested, and Sam Curran was recalled. Pakistan also had an interesting change, choosing to play Fawad Alam – who hasn’t played a test since November 2009 – and resting Shadab Khan. Pakistan won the toss and chose to bat first.
As England came into bowl, it became clear their main frustration during this match wasn’t going to be Pakistan, but rather the weather. Despite this, and the humidity, play began in the hopes of getting some wickets before the rain, and Anderson did not disappoint when he dismissed opening batsman Shan Masood lbw in the second over with an inswinger. The presence of 3 slips and a gulley meant Anderson continued to deliver balls which swung and invited the drive. However, a partnership between Abid Ali and Azhar Ali, which added 72 runs, hindered England’s plans to take quick wickets. Dropped catches from both Rory Burns and Dom Sibley, at 2nd and 3rd slip proved costly before rain stopped play leaving the score at 62-1 and the teams taking an early lunch. After lunch, Burns took a catch off of an Anderson ball which dismissed the captain on 20 runs. Abid continued to accumulate runs, scoring a couple of 4s with the ball going through the gulley before rain stopped play again leaving the score on 85-2 at tea. After play resumed, he reached his half century despite the tough conditions. Two consecutive boundaries allowed Pakistan to reach 100 before wickets started falling fast. Left-arm bowler Curran found the outside edge of Abid’s bat which saw him dismissed on 60 (c Burns) before Asad Shafiq was dismissed on just 5 runs after Broad lured him forward just enough for him to edge to Sibley at 3rd slip. Woakes dismissed Alam lbw for a duck after a review required the umpire to overturn his decision. Rain stopped play again with the score on 126-5.
Day 2 saw a partnership between Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam began to build in the morning session. At lunch the score was on 155-5; England had taken no wickets despite favourable bowling conditions. The partnership ended when Babar was caught behind (b Broad) from an outside edge. Five overs later, Yasir Shah was dismissed when he was also caught behind off Anderson leaving Pakistan on 171-7. Shaheen Afridi was soon run out by Sibley dismissing him for a duck with an amazing long-range throw to the stumps. Rizwan continued to carry his bat fighting his way to a half century, a crucial innings for his side. At tea the score was 215-8. Abbas and Rizwan managed to add 39 to the score before Abbas fell lbw to Broad.
Play was abandoned on day 3 due to rain. However, play got going on day 4 and a final addition of 21 between Naseem Shah and Rizwan elevated Pakistan’s total to 236 before Rizwan was dismissed on 72 (c Crawley b Broad). England came into bat with neither the weather nor time on their side. The first over saw Burns dismissed for a duck (c Asad b Shaheen). Sibley was hit by a 77mph ball above the thigh leaving him visibly in pain! Luckily stumps came 4 overs later with the score at 7-1 and England trailing by 229.
Day 5 was set to be anticlimactic with a drawn match inevitable. Play began as the sun came out with Crawley on strike and Abbas bowling. Crawley played some attractive and attacking shots scoring seven 4s, including one that went just wide of Shah at mid-on and a shot to over mid-off. A valiant effort from Sibley and Crawley, who reached a well-earned half century, saw them push England’s score to 91-2 before the latter was dismissed lbw (b Abbas) on 53 and two overs later the former dismissed on 32 when he was caught behind (b Abbas) going down the legside. Pope put away an inswinger for 4 and added 9 before he was out lbw (b Yasir) leaving England on 105-4. After 5 overs, England declared on 110-4 seeing no definitive outcome to the match which was officially drawn.
Analysis: The weather played the strongest game during this test leaving both teams disappointed in the outcome.
Both teams played a decent game with strong bowling on both sides as well as some good batsmanship from Crawley and Rizwan. Ultimately, nothing could be done as rain ot bad light forced play to be stopped at some point on all 5 days. The final match, beginning on August 21 at the AGEAS Bowl, is set to be interesting with Pakistan needing to win to avoid losing the series. I don’t foresee any major changes in the England team, especially with Stokes still unavailable, though Archer may be recalled. It would be nice to see a Test debut for Ollie Robinson who was recalled for this match but not played. It seems the perfect time to play him before Australia next year. Pakistan may choose to rest Alam, though again, no major changes seem likely. The forecast is looking equally dismal for the final test.
Result: Match drawn; England lead series 1-0.
Pakistan: 236 all out