45.4 overs on Day 1, 40.2 on Day 2! Mohammad Rizwan made a solid impression despite bad weather once again hogging most of the limelight on the second day of the second Test between England and Pakistan at the Ageas Bowl, Southampton on Friday (August 14). The wicketkeeper-batsman crafted a stunning fifty as the visiting side crawled to 223 for 9 on what was a yet another start-stop day.
There was rain, wet outfield, and bad light, but Pakistan managed to add 97 runs to their overnight total. The stumps were drawn early because of the deteriorating light, with Rizwan and Naseem Shah unbeaten on 60 and 1 respectively. Pakistan would like these two to add few more crucial runs on Day 3 but the weather forecast for the remainder of this Test doesn't look promising.
The start was delayed due to light rain and a wet outfield and it took them an hour and a half to get the ground match-ready. The action finally began at 12:30 local (17:00 IST) under floodlights, with the freshened-up surface offering ample movement to the England seamers. Chris Woakes and James Anderson started the proceedings for England and kept both Babar Azam and Rizwan on their toes by bowling on that fifth-sixth stump line. However, anything on the body, Babar was quick to pounce on it.
Resuming the day on 126 for 5, the conditions weren't easy to bat and there were quite a few play-and-miss moments but Babar and Rizwan somehow managed to see off Woakes and Anderson. Having scored a fifty-plus score in each of his last six Tests, Babar was once again up to the task and along with wicketkeeper-batsman Rizwan ensured the visiting side didn't lose any wicket in the first session. England bowlers bowled quite a few deliveries down the leg side, with all of Babar's runs coming through that area in the morning session.
The two batsmen added 38 runs in almost 20 overs before Stuart Broad finally ended Babar's resilience. The right-handed batsman didn't look comfortable on deliveries pitched just outside off and Broad kept bowling in that channel and finally reaped the reward. Babar crafted three boundaries in his 127-ball 47 before getting undone by a superb outswinger. Yasir Shah (5) too couldn't contribute much and became Anderson's third victim, getting dismissed in a similar fashion - caught behind off an outswinger.
Rizwan kept one end intact but soon started running out of partners. After Yasir's departure, Shaheen Afridi was run out without opening his account. That's when Rizwan started playing more freely and went after Woakes and Sam Curran, slamming them for three fours in the space of three overs. The surface was still offering enough movement and some extra bounce but Rizwan batted very smartly and found good support from No. 10 Mohammad Abbas who dug his heels and stood firm at the other end.
The wicketkeeper-batsman kept most of the strike during the partnership and in the process brought up his second Test fifty. Abbas only scored 2 but added 39 runs for the ninth wicket. The partnership was finally broken just after tea when Broad pinned Abbas right in front of the stumps. For England, Anderson and Broad have picked up three wickets each and will try to take the remaining one wicket as quickly as possible on Day 3. Meanwhile, Pakistan would want Rizwan to carry on and get them closer to that 250-run mark.
Having not won a single away Test since their victory against England at Lord's in 2018, Pakistan are 0-1 behind and will have to win this encounter to keep the three-match series alive.