SOUTHAMPTON: After waiting for long on the rain-interrupted fifth and final day of the third and final Test here at the Ageas Bowl on Tuesday, the play has finally begun with Pakistan resuming their second innings, following on, at 100 for two.
They are 210 runs behind England’s mammoth first innings 583-8 declared, which featured a double century from Zak Crawley.
Azhar Ali, the Pakistan captain, was 29 not out, following his first-innings century, and Babar Azam was unbeaten on four.
England pacer James Anderson needs just one wicket to become only the fourth bowler — and first paceman — to reach the landmark figure of 600 Test wickets.
England, 1-0 up in the three-match contest, are on the brink of their first Test series win over Pakistan for a decade.
There is uncertainty as to whether England´s rescheduled tour of Sri Lanka or Test series in India pencilled in for the New Year will take place, with the coronavirus pandemic still a major threat to the cricket calendar.
Anderson was left just one wicket shy of becoming only the fourth bowler — and first paceman — to reach the landmark figure of 600 Test wickets as a combination of poor catching, bad weather and determined Pakistan batting thwarted him on Monday.
Anderson, denied an early breakthrough when Jos Buttler dropped a routine chance to reprieve Shan Masood, returned late in the day to have opener Abid Ali lbw for 42 after Masood had fallen lbw, playing no shot, to Stuart Broad.
But that was as good as it got for Anderson, who ended a day cut short by bad light and rain with miserly figures of 1-18 from 12 overs.
Abid, who faced 162 balls, said: “England have a world-class bowling attack but the plan was to bat longer and that’s what I did.
“Azhar played a good knock in the first innings and Babar is there so we still have hope of finishing on a high.”
The only bowlers ahead of Anderson in the all-time Test list are three retired spinners — Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan (800), Australia’s Shane Warne (708) and India’s Anil Kumble (619).
Anderson started Monday in sight of the 600 mark after taking 5-56 — his 29th five-wicket haul in 156 Tests — during Pakistan’s first-innings 273.