James Anderson made good on England’s unwavering faith with both wickets as Pakistan reached 85 for two on a rain-affected first day of the second Test, but two drops at slip prevented the hosts taking an even stronger position.
Anderson’s flat performance in the series opener in Manchester resulted in the country’s record wicket-taker denying rumours he was contemplating retirement and instead asking for an immediate chance to bounce back at the Ageas Bowl.
Captain Joe Root was quick to guarantee the 38-year-old his place – with Jofra Archer rotated out of the side instead – and Anderson removed Shan Masood and Azhar Ali for his part of the bargain.
Leading from the front @jimmy9! 💫
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) August 13, 2020
Abid Ali was underpinning the Pakistan effort with 49 not out before a downpour washed out the majority of the afternoon session, but was put down on one by Dom Sibley and again on 21 by Rory Burns.
All eyes were on Anderson after Azhar asked to field and he needed just eight balls to match his haul from the previous Test, trapping Masood lbw.
The left-hander batted eight hours for 156 in his first innings at Emirates Old Trafford but barely bothered the time-keeper here, shuffling across the crease and rapped on the knee-roll by the perfect amount of inswing.
Stuart Broad should have been celebrating similarly in the very next over when Abid sprayed a chance to third slip, reprieved when Sibley moved to his left and juggled a chance.
Broad called for an inhaler midway through his spell, with the muggy conditions activating his asthma, but he was not unduly affected and later returned for a second stint.
Chris Woakes, man-of-the-match for his efforts with bat and ball last time out, replaced him and was halfway through his celebration after his second ball clipped Azhar’s inside edge and squeezed between the pads. The ball did roll up against the stumps but not hard enough to raise a bail.
Woakes’ luck was even worse when Abid played him with hard hands straight to second slip, where Burns fumbled at neck height.
The second-wicket pair knuckled down to make the most of their extra lives, Azhar’s square cut off the returning Anderson the best shot of a morning shortened by 12 minutes due to a shower.
There were only 10.1 overs and 23 runs possible after the break, with a more considerable deluge wiping out the remainder of the session, but that was enough for Anderson to take care of Azhar.
The under-pressure captain appeared to have got away with one when England declined to review an appeal for caught behind off Anderson – with UltraEdge showing a slight but tangible flicker – but he could not cash in.
He pushed at Anderson again on 20 and this time Burns was alert enough to gather a low chance cleanly. The unmistakable crack of thunder broke as soon as he departed and the teams were soon off the field and watching the skies.