Pakistan tour of England, 2020; England vs Pakistan third Test, Ageas Bowl Day 2; Eng 583/8 dec of 154.4 overs (Z Crawley 267), J Buttler (152); Pak 24/3 of 10.5 overs, James Anderson (3/13)
With England ending Day 1 at 332/4, Pakistan’s prospects in the final Test was about as gloomy as the overcast skies in Southampton, going into the second day.
Though a drizzle brought a halt to the proceedings shortly after the start of play on Day 2, the cover was rolled back before long as the two overnight batsmen Zak Crawley (171*) and Jos Buttler (87*) strode out to resume their innings. And, it wasn’t long before the two hit their straps and kept the scoreboard motoring along.
The Pakistani bowlers failed to make any further inroads into the English batting line-up and seemed to be going through the motions as England roared past 400.
Crawley and Buttler seemed to have picked up from where they left off at close of play on Day 1. The duo matched each other shot for shot before Buttler brought up his second Test century with a stroke through the Cover region. After reaching his milestone, Buttler went hell for leather as Pakistani shoulders dropped.
Crawley, who was in sight of his maiden double century at Stumps on Day 1, went along his merry way and eventually reached the landmark with a streaky shot through the slips.
From the way the two accelerated the scoring after reaching their individual landmarks, it was clear that England was looking to bat once and bat big. With weather-induced disruptions not ruled out in the next three days, England would want enough overs in hand to take 20 Pakistan wickets. Hence, there was a clear intent to score quickly and reach a total that would enable Root to declare safely.
The Pakistani bowlers looked to have ran out of steam under bright and sunny skies, as they erred in their lines and lengths and were promptly dispatched to the fence.
Even Yasir Shah, who was the best bowler on view for Pakistan on Day 1 with two wickets, suffered at the hands of the overnight pair. It was eventually down to part-timer Asad Shafique to bring Pakistan a measure of respite from the English assault, as he beat an advancing Crawley in flight and Rizwan was quick to knock off the bails. His dismissal for 267 finally ended a marathon partnership of 359 runs with Buttler.
Crawley’s exit brought Chris Woakes to the crease. The Warwickshire all-rounder who stroked a fine unbeaten 84 to take England to an incredible win at Old Trafford, went after the bowlers from ball one.
Woakes and Buttler, who were involved in a match-winning partnership at Old Trafford, put together 44 runs in quick time before Buttler fell for 152, lobbing a catch to part-timer Fawad Alam off his own bowling.
Woakes, too, fell to Alam trying to force the pace, at 40. Off-spinner Dom Bess and paceman Stuart Broad then scored 27 and 15 runs in quick time to take England well past 500.
Skipper Root finally declared at 583, leaving a deflated and dispirited Pakistan with a mountain to climb.
The first task for Azhar Ali’s men was not to lose any wicket till the close of play and their efforts towards that end came a cropper as England spearhead Jimmy Anderson ripped through the top order in a display of high class swing bowling. While lanky opener Shan Masood fell to an in-swinger which caught him plumb in front of the stumps, his partner Abid Ali got out edging an outgoing delivery to the slips. A mere 5 runs was all that the openers could contribute to the Pakistan cause.
They slipped deeper into the mire as their big batting hope and vice-captain Babar Azam missed a sharp in-coming delivery from Anderson and was ruled leg before wicket for 11. Skipper Azhar Ali was unbeaten on 4 at Stumps, but struggled to put bat on ball.
Pakistan would be desperately eyeing the elements for some respite on Day 3 and will go to battle in the hope that weather will be their ally in what appears to be an insurmountable task.