LEEDS: England were 302 for seven in reply to Pakistan’s first-innings 174, a lead of 128 runs, at the close of the second day of the second Test at Headingley on Saturday. Pakistan lead the two-match series 1-0 after a nine-wicket win in the first Test at Lord’s.
England went in search of a first-innings lead as the second Test against Pakistan finally resumed after rain meant there was no play before lunch on Saturday’s second day at Headingley.
With the floodlights switched on to guard against the additional threat of bad light, the match eventually got underway at 2:45pm local time (1345 GMT) — several hours after the scheduled start of 11:00am (1000 GMT).
Earlier, England, seeking to bounce back from their nine-wicket thrashing in the first Test at Lord’s and end the two-match series all square at 1-1, finished Friday’s opening day on 106 runs for two wickets, just 68 runs behind Pakistan’s lowly first-innings 174.
Joe Root, the England captain, was 29 not out on his Yorkshire home ground, with nightwatchman Dominic Bess unbeaten on nought.
Pakistan only need to avoid defeat at Headingley to seal a first series win in England for 22 years.
Rain delays, reduced the amount of time available to England to win the game, were likely to be a boost to the tourists.
Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed won the toss on Friday and decided to bat on a good pitch but humid and overcast conditions created an environment that assisted swing and seam bowling.
With England bowling a fuller length than at Lord’s pacemen Stuart Broad, James Anderson and the recalled Chris Woakes took three wickets apiece. Pakistan were indebted to teenager Shadab Khan’s 56 — the 19-year-old’s third fifty in as many Tests.
England were without Ben Stokes after the all-rounder suffered a hamstring tear that threatens to keep him on the sidelines for at least a month.
Keaton Jennings, who replaced the dropped Mark Stoneman in one of three changes to England’s XI, shared an opening stand of 53 with Alastair Cook before he was caught behind off Faheem Ashraf.
Cook, appearing in a record-breaking 154th consecutive Test as he went past the mark he had previously shared with Australia great Allan Border, made 46.
England’s all-time leading Test run-scorer did not look in any trouble until he gloved a hook off fast bowler Hasan Ali to wicket-keeper Sarfraz, shortly before Friday’s close.
Defeat for England would see them slip to an 18-year low of seventh in the International Cricket Council’s Test rankings.
England have not been so far down the standings since being ranked seventh in October 1999.
They started that year fourth but a team led by Nasser Hussain won just one of eight Tests during the next 12 months before the appointment of former Zimbabwe all-rounder Duncan Fletcher as coach led to an upturn in England’s fortunes.
Now England, who have lost six of their last eight Tests, are battling to avoid a third straight series loss following recent reverses in Australia and New Zealand.
Defeat in Leeds and a 2-0 series reverse would see England overtaken by Pakistan as well as Sri Lanka in the ICC table.— AFP