England great James Anderson returned to form with two wickets against Pakistan at Southampton on Thursday as Fawad Alam’s long wait for a Test recall ended with a duck. Pakistan were 126-5 at stumps after a combination of rain and bad light cut short play on the first day of the second Test. Anderson had taken 2-35 from 15 overs to move to within eight wickets of becoming the first paceman with 600 in Tests. All of England’s four quicks enjoyed success, with only Pakistan opener Abid Ali — dropped twice in the slips — offering prolonged resistance during an innings of 60.
Anderson came into this match having taken just six wickets in three previous Tests this season, at an expensive average of over 41.
By his own admission, he had not been at his best with a match haul of 1-67 during England’s three-wicket win in the first Test at his Old Trafford home ground last week.
But the 38-year-old denied rumours he was considering retirement, with England captain Joe Root saying on the eve of this match: “To question Jimmy’s ability and his record — do that at your own peril.”
And it was not long before England’s all-time leading wicket-taker struck after Pakistan captain Azhar Ali won the toss.
In humid conditions conducive to Anderson’s bowling, he needed just eight balls to have Shan Masood, fresh from his Test-best 156, lbw for one with an inswinger to the left-hander.
Masood was so clearly out, he did not bother to review the decision.
Pakistan should have been 7-2 but Abid, on one, was reprieved when third slip Dom Sibley dropped an edge off Stuart Broad.
Azhar, under pressure after a run of just one fifty in 10 innings since becoming skipper in November, was nearly out for seven when, playing defensively at in-form all-rounder Chris Woakes, the ball trickled onto his stumps without dislodging the bails.
Woakes suffered again when he had Abid, on 21, got dropped by second slip Rory Burns.
Luck runs out
But Pakistan’s luck ran out when Azhar, on 20, edged a full-length Anderson delivery and this time Burns held a good, low catch to leave Pakistan 78-2.
The only bowlers to have taken more than Anderson’s 592 Test wickets are a trio of retired spinners.
Sri Lanka’s Muttiah Muralitharan leads the way with 800, while Australia’s Shane Warne has 708 and India’s Anil Kumble 619.
Abid completed a 99-ball fifty featuring six fours after tea.
But left-arm seamer Sam Curran, recalled in place of fast bowler Jofra Archer, had Abid taken in the slips by Burns with a ball that angled across the right-hander following a couple of inswingers.
Sibley, to his evident relief, held a slip catch off Broad as Asad Shafiq fell cheaply.
Alam, a prolific run-scorer in Pakistan domestic cricket, played the last of his three previous Tests, in which he averages over 41, against New Zealand in Dunedin in November 2009.
The 34-year-old was the only change to the side after replacing leg-spinning all-rounder Shadab Khan.
But Alam lasted just five minutes at the crease.
Batting with an extremely open stance, Alam was lbw for a four-ball nought to in-form all-rounder Woakes.
Alam was initially given not out but an England review revealed the ball had pitched in line, with a squared-up Alam in front of his stumps.
England, as well as recalling Curran, made an expected change when batsman Zak Crawley returned in place of Ben Stokes.
Star all-rounder Stokes is missing the final two matches of this series for personal reasons after travelling to New Zealand to be with his ill father.
Topics mentioned in this article