Recent Match Report – England vs Pakistan 3rd Test 2020

Pakistan 273 (Azhar 141, Rizwan 53, Anderson 5-56) and 187 for 4 (Babar 63*) drew with England 583 for 8 declared (Crawley 267, Buttler 152)

James Anderson became the first seamer to take 600 Test wickets as England’s third and final Test against Pakistan petered out into a rain-affected draw at the Ageas Bowl.

Anderson had Pakistan’s captain and first-innings centurion Azhar Ali caught by Joe Root at slip in his third over of the final day after overnight rain and standing water had pushed back the start until 4.15pm. He was the second-fastest man to the landmark, six balls behind Muttiah Muralitharan, and the first Englishman.

Despite Anderson’s early breakthrough, England never looked likely to bowl Pakistan out as they followed on on a flat pitch that offered little for bowlers throughout the Test match, particularly with the old ball. Root had Asad Shafiq caught at bat-pad three balls before the second new ball was due, but four overs later he had bumped fists with Azhar.

After heavy overnight rain across the UK, it had initially looked unlikely that there would be any play at all on the final day. The Ageas Bowl ground staff faced a long clean-up operation, with a vast amount of standing water on the covers and several problem areas in the outfield. Following several inspections, the umpires decided that the ground would fit for play from 4.15pm, with up to 42 overs possible.

All eyes were immediately on Anderson, who shared the bowling with Jofra Archer from the outset, as Azhar and Babar Azam successfully negotiated his first two overs with several fielders catching in front of the wicket and Joe Root positioning himself as the solitary slip.

The moment arrived at 4.37pm, from the second ball of Anderson’s third over. The ball pitched slightly short of a length in the off-stump channel, nipping away with a hint of extra bounce as it took the shoulder of Azhar’s bat. England’s slip catching has caused them problems throughout the summer, but this chance could hardly have been simpler for Root, who clung on to take Anderson to the 600 mark.

He immediately burst into a broad grin, high-fiving substitute fielder James Bracey, embracing Root, shaking hands with Jos Buttler and Stuart Broad and then being congratulated in turn by each of his team-mates. He acknowledged the handful of backroom and venue staff in the ground by holding the ball aloft to them, beaming from ear to ear.

That left England with seven wickets to get, and despite Anderson nipping one past Asad Shafiq’s outside edge, he was soon taken out of the attack. Babar and Shafiq ticked over towards the new ball, with Dom Bess and Root operating in tandem, while Dom Sibley’s part-time legspin was given a first outing in Test cricket.

Babar raced towards fifty with a flurry of boundaries off Bess, reaching his second half-century of an underwhelming series by nudging Root through the leg side with the new ball almost due, but Shafiq fell the very next ball, prodding him to Bracey under the lid at short leg.

Anderson took the new ball and found sharp movement in his first over, but not long after Root decided that he had seen enough and the captains bumped fists for the draw at 6.05pm.

That meant a 1-0 England win – their first series victory against Pakistan since 2010 – with Anderson taking the headlines. Both of the Ageas Bowl Tests in this series were marred by inclement weather, but this one will undoubtedly be remembered – for Zak Crawley’s epic 267 as well as Anderson’s milestone.

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