12:47 AM IST
The Report by Valkerie Baynes
Pakistan 223 for 9 (Rizwan 60*, Naseem 1*) v England
An astute half-century by Pakistan No. 7 Mohammad Rizwan threw light on an otherwise dreary second day of the second Test against England.
Rizwan’s unbeaten knock of 60 pushed his side towards something that might be approaching a par score given the challenging conditions at a damp and overcast Ageas Bowl.
After a laudable performance behind the stumps in the opening Test of this series at Old Trafford, wicketkeeper-batsman Rizwan resumed unbeaten on 4 having come in with his side 120 for 5 shortly before rain and bad light stopped play on Thursday evening.
He and Babar Azam added 29 runs in the hour of play to lunch after more bad weather had delayed the start by 90 minutes. In that time, Azam saw off four overs from James Anderson in which Anderson conceded only four runs but ended his spell not looking like taking a wicket.
By the first break, Pakistan were 155 for 5 and Azam was five runs shy of his half century. Stuart Broad struck in the third over back, however, with a lovely ball on fourth-stump which drew a nick and sent Azam on his way, caught behind, for 47.
Rizwan survived a chance on 14 when he top-edged a pull off Broad that found the tip of a diving Jos Buttler’s glove, although it would have been a sensational catch had he managed to gather it in.
Having struggled to make inroads, England’s bowlers came back with an apparent plan to bowl fuller after lunch and it paid dividends for Anderson, who pitched the ball up and had Yasir Shah caught behind slashing at his outswinger.
That gave Anderson his third scalp after his two the previous day and, with Pakistan 171 for 7, it really was down to Rizwan – who by that stage was yet to reach 20 himself – to produce an innings of note.
Shaheen Shah Afridi survived after edging Sam Curran to first slip, with Joe Root seemingly uncertain whether the ball had carried. Although the soft signal from the on-field umpires was out, replays suggested the ball had indeed touched the ground, prompting third umpire Richard Illingworth to give Afridi a reprieve.
Afridi ended up being run out by a brilliant direct hit from Dom Sibley after taking off for a single when there was no run to be had. With Rizwan sending his partner back, Sibley swooped on the ball from third slip and threw down the stumps at the non-striker’s end as Afridi tried in vain to get back.
Playing his eighth Test, Rizwan responded to his task by batting intelligently with the tailenders while adding runs where he could, including a glorious shot off Chris Woakes over square leg that looked like going all the way before it dropped inside the rope. He took another two boundaries in three balls from Curran, one of them a bold little hoick over the slips.
Rizwan managed the strike well, bringing up his half-century with a dash for two after pressing Broad into the off side with Mohammad Abbas stretching to make his ground on the return. The partnership added 39 in ten overs, as England struggled in their attempts to separate Rizwan and No. 10 Abbas.
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Abbas faced 19 balls for his 2 but was eventually out to the first ball he faced after bad light had prompted tea to be taken early, plumb lbw to give Broad his third.
That was five overs after England had taken the second new ball and Broad sent down just five deliveries more before the players left the field again for bad light and stumps were called more than an hour and half later.
Rizwan, with a second Test fifty under his belt following his highest score of 95 against Australia last November, will resume with more work to do, especially in the face of England’s bowlers looking to wrap the Pakistan innings up.
He may also still have work to do to silence a small band of critics, who have treated him harsly since he replaced former captain Sarfaraz Ahmed as first-choice wicketkeeper. But, with the greater goal of trying to help his side in their quest to level the series in mind, he cannot possibly be faulted.
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