Eng­land set­tle for rain-soaked draw

‘We did our best’ says cap­tain as se­cond Test is ru­ined by rain Craw­ley marks his re­turn to the team with a half-cen­tury

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Nick Hoult CHIEF CRICKET CORRESPOND­ENT

This was a Test match played be­hind closed doors that should be locked away in a deep vault and for­got­ten about, af­ter freak­ish weather wrecked it as a con­test.

The two cap­tains shook hands on a draw just af­ter 6pm on the fi­nal day, af­ter yet an­other del­uge of rain had caused a de­lay un­til 3.20pm.

There was time for Zak Craw­ley to blos­som, be­fore fall­ing leg be­fore to Mo­ham­mad Ab­bas in a se­cond spell that pro­vided a re­minder of the dan­ger he will pose in the fi­nal Test, but mainly this was a glo­ri­fied net prac­tice, with the match long ago run­ning out of puff.

This week will be re­mem­bered for two in­con­gru­ous im­ages. One was the Test be­ing halted for bad light while a prac­tice match con­tin­ued on the colts ground next door. The se­cond was play be­ing aban­doned at 4pm on the fourth day for a wet out­field, with the ground bathed in sun­shine.

There was more ur­gency to clear up and restart the game yes­ter­day af­ter con­cerns raised overnight by broad­cast­ers at the in­ac­tion on the fourth day. The game had been tripped up by a rigid ap­pli­ca­tion of the reg­u­la­tions by of­fi­cials wor­ried about ram­i­fi­ca­tions from their man­agers. Once again the pay­ing spec­ta­tor, al­beit watch­ing at home, was for­got­ten about. It is a shame be­cause this has been a great sum­mer of Test cricket so far.

Strict ap­pli­ca­tion of the bad light rules has marred pre­vi­ous Tests both here and in Manch­ester, but the ac­tion has made up for it. It be­came an is­sue this week be­cause the fussy of­fi­ci­at­ing was com­bined with in­ces­sant rain, mak­ing a re­sult im­pos­si­ble.

Only 38.1 overs were bowled yes­ter­day and just 134.3 across the five days. It is the short­est Test in Eng­land in terms of balls bowled (807) since the Lord’s Test in 1987.

Draws are rare these days. This was only the third since 2014 in Eng­land, a re­flec­tion of bet­ter drainage and the in­abil­ity of teams to bat in dif­fi­cult con­di­tions.

“As play­ers we man­aged to do what we could as best we could,” said Eng­land cap­tain Joe Root. “We found our­selves in a strange po­si­tion. I’ve never seen a game af­fected by bad light as much as this one. It is hard to blame the um­pires. There is some­thing big­ger that needs look­ing at higher up.” It leaves the se­ries 1-0 to Eng­land, with the last Test of this strange sum­mer start­ing here on Fri­day.

This draw en­sures Eng­land’s proud record of not los­ing a home se­ries since 2014 re­mains in­tact, but it has cost them World Test Cham­pi­onship points. To re­al­is­ti­cally over­haul In­dia and Aus­tralia to con­test next year’s Test cham­pi­onship fi­nal, Eng­land had to win this se­ries 3-0 and gain the max­i­mum 90 points.

In­stead, they will be sat­is­fied with con­firm­ing a se­ries win over Pak­istan later this week, which would be their first for 10 years.

Changes later this week will be min­i­mal. The bat­ting line-up will stay the same and it is un­likely Root will want to rest one of James An­der­son or Stu­art Broad, given they will not play for Eng­land again af­ter next week un­til early Jan­uary.

Jofra Archer should re­place Sam Cur­ran, to give the at­tack spice, if he can be per­suaded to ratchet up the pace, some­thing that has been ab­sent too much this sum­mer.

“We’ll have to see where we’re at in the next cou­ple of days and, thank­fully, as we have all sum­mer, we’ve got fan­tas­tic op­tions avail­able to us,” Root said. “We can look at the sur­face and see if it looks any dif­fer­ent to this one and see if there’s a bal­ance of at­tack we re­ally fancy on any given pitch.”

The pitch for the next Test is two strips across from the sur­face used for this game and is likely to be sim­i­larly grassy and help­ful to seam bowl­ing. There was seam and swing through­out this match and bat­ting was a dif­fi­cult busi­ness. Mo­ham­mad Rizwan was man of the match for his gritty 72.

Craw­ley made his third Test fifty, play­ing some at­trac­tive drives and pulls in the best bat­ting con­di­tions of the game. The sun fi­nally poked through when play started, with one ses­sion of a max­i­mum of 56 overs. The draw could be called af­ter 41 overs or at the start of the fi­nal hour, which­ever was later.

Craw­ley sur­vived a missed stump­ing on 37, but looked at home, pulling Yasir Shah for four to bring up a well-rounded half cen­tury.

The con­cen­tra­tion slipped, how­ever, when Ab­bas re­turned for a se­cond spell tak­ing two for 10. His first ball nipped off a seam and hit Craw­ley on a pad play­ing across the line, the de­ci­sion up­held on re­view.

Dom Si­b­ley grafted away in mak­ing 32, but was dis­missed down the leg side for the fifth time in his Test

Call­ing it a day: Eng­land cap­tain Joe Root and Pak­istan’s Fawad Alam greet each other af­ter the match is drawn, as both sides bump fists at the con­clu­sion (above)

ca­reer. Play­ing away from his body, he wafted at a leg-side ball from Ab­bas, clip­ping it to the keeper.

Ab­bas beat Root with four out of the first five balls he faced and Yasir nipped out Ol­lie Pope leg be­fore play­ing back. With the draw loom­ing, Azhar Ali brought him­self on.

He beat Root first ball, which was enough for the Eng­land cap­tain. He was not go­ing to en­dure the hu­mil­i­a­tion of be­ing dis­missed by his op­po­site num­ber with a bowl­ing av­er­age of 76. Root im­me­di­ately de­clared which, with the overs knocked off for the change of in­nings, meant the game was done. It will not live long in the mem­ory.

Frus­tra­tion: Pak­istan’s Yasir Shah looks dis­mayed while Eng­land’s Zak Craw­ley runs a sin­gle at the Ageas Bowl, where the sides ac­cepted a draw af­ter a se­cond Test that was heav­ily cur­tailed by the weather

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