JAMES ANDERSON finally completed his five-wicket haul but not before an amazing sequence of drama and erupting emotions.
His historic 600th Test wicket will have to wait for another day – probably Monday.
Anderson must have felt his 29th five-for in Test cricket would never arrive after three catches were dropped off his bowling in the space of ten extraordinary balls.
All of three of the chances were easy and one spilled by his mate Stuart Broad an outrageous dolly.
Anderson can be grumpy at the best of times and now he betrayed a mixture of fury, frustration and complete disbelief.
Thankfully, for his sanity, he took Pakistan’s last wicket, finished with 5-56 and elevated his career total to 598.
Any hope of adding the two he needs to become the first quick bowler in history to reach 600 ended with bad light as Pakistan, following-on, were about to begin their second innings.
Anderson’s delight at taking the first four wickets of Pakistan’s first innings evaporated during that hat-trick of butter-fingered blunders late on day three of the Third Test.
First, Pakistan captain Azhar Ali, who made a magnificent century, aimed a drive at Anderson and edged straight towards Rory Burns’ hands at second slip.
But the Surrey captain failed to grab the chance and the ball went to the boundary.
Azhar took a single off the next delivery and then Mohammad Abbas was spilled by Zak Crawley at fourth slip.
The sort of chance Crawley would expect to hold at least nine times out of ten.
What on earth was going? Anderson sunk to his haunches in a mixture of anger and incredulity.
But it got worse. In Anderson’s next over, Azhar chipped to mid-on where Broad somehow made a mess of the easiest of easy chances.
The ball still produced a wicket, though, as Broad, enraged and embarrassed, grabbed the ball and hurled a dead-eye, direct-hit throw at the stumps and ran out Abbas as the batsmen attempted a single.
Eventually, Anderson did take another wicket when No.11 Naseem Shah edged and Dom Sibley clung on at third slip.
Anderson led off his team to applause and admiration with his tranquility gradually returning.
Azhar remained 141 not out and was preparing to promote himself from No.3 to open Pakistan’s second innings.
He has been under enormous pressure back home in Pakistan with everybody from former players to unforgiving fans criticising his captaincy – especially after his team allowed England off the hook in the First Test.
His problems with the bat – his previous scores in the series were 0, 18 and 20 – did not help deflect the vitriol, either.
Azhar was watchful at first, trying just to stay in, but he found fluency and started scoring almost at a run-a-ball.
He breezed past fifty and reached his 17th Test century by driving Dom Bess to the cover boundary.
He raised both arms aloft, hugged his partner Mohammad Rizwan and kissed the turf.
The roar of appreciation from the Pakistan players’ balcony echoed around the empty Ageas Bowl.
In the morning, Anderson collected his fourth wicket of his opening spell when Asad Shafiq was caught at slip by Joe Root.
There was no time for another delivery before a shower sent the players scurrying to the dressing-room.
Fawad Alam, who was out for nought in his comeback Test last week, managed 21 this time until Bess produced a cracker that turned and bounced and found the edge of the bat.
Jos Buttler held a fine catch, very similar to one he dropped standing up to Bess in the First Test at Old Trafford.
So not only has Buttler’s batting improved as the summer has gone on, so has his ‘keeping.
Rizwan is a combative and effective little cricketer, a jack-in-the-box behind the stumps and a quick-footed fighter with the bat.
On 13, he was struck on the helmet by Jofra Archer when he ducked into a short ball. But he carried on, no problem.
Rizwan reached a half-century with a straight six off Bess, the first six of his Test career. But then he was caught down the legside off Chris Woakes.
Woakes has bowled with great penetration this summer but he looked sluggish yesterday, perhaps drained by the effort of so many back-to-back Tests.
Yasir Shah was held by Root at first slip from one from Broad that bounced and then Buttler held onto a leaping, acrobatic grab down the legside to remove leftie Shaheen Afridi.
England needed two more wickets and what craziness we saw before they eventually fell.
Source: Read Full Article