Anderson at the double against Pakistan as he eyes 600 Test wickets

Julian GUYER
·3 min read

James Anderson returned to form with a double strike against Pakistan on Thursday as the England great moved closer to becoming the first paceman to take 600 Test wickets.

Pakistan were 85-2 at tea on a rain-interrupted first day of the second Test at Hampshire's Ageas Bowl.

Anderson had figures of 2-24 in 12 overs, having come into this match, having taken just six wickets in three previous Tests this season at an expensive average of over 41.

Abid Ali, dropped twice in the slips, was 49 not out.

By his own admission, Anderson had not been at his best with a match haul of 1-67 during England's three-wicket win in the first Test at his Old Trafford home ground last week.

But the 38-year-old adamantly denied rumours he was considering retirement, with England captain Joe Root saying on the eve of this match: "To question Jimmy's ability and his record -- do that at your own peril."

And it was not long before England's all-time leading wicket-taker backed up his skipper's words after Pakistan skipper Azhar Ali won the toss.

In humid conditions conducive to Anderson's bowling, he needed just eight balls to have Shan Masood, fresh from his Test-best 156 last week, lbw for one with an inswinger to the left-hander.

Masood was so clearly out, he did not bother to review the decision.

His exit brought in Azhar, under pressure after a run of just one fifty in 10 innings since becoming skipper in November.

He'd also faced criticism for his tactics during a decisive stand of 139 between Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes that saw England come from behind to win the first Test.

Pakistan should have been 7-2 but Abid, on one, was reprieved when third slip Dom Sibley dropped an edge off Stuart Broad.

Azhar was on seven when, playing defensively at in-form all-rounder Woakes, the ball trickled onto his stumps without dislodging the bails.

Woakes suffered again when Abid, on 21, got an outside edge only for second slip Rory Burns to drop a catch that should have been taken. 

But Pakistan's luck eventually ran out when Azhar, on 20, edged a full-length Anderson delivery and this time Burns held a good, low catch to end a stand of 76.

The only bowlers to have taken more than Anderson's 592 Test wickets are a trio of retired spinners.

Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan leads the way with 800 Test wickets, while Australia's Shane Warne has 708 and India's Anil Kumble 619.

- Veteran Alam recalled -

Pakistan's Fawad Alam, 34, has been recalled for his first Test in over a decade. 

The batsman's inclusion and was the only change to the side as he replaced leg-spinning all-rounder Shadab Khan.

A prolific run-scorer in Pakistan domestic cricket, Alam played the last of his three previous Tests, in which he averages over 41, against New Zealand in Dunedin, back in November 2009.

England made two changes for a match that is once more being played behind closed doors because of coronavirus. 

As expected, batsman Zak Crawley returned in place of Ben Stokes after it was announced the star all-rounder would miss the final two matches of this series for personal reasons after travelling to New Zealand to be with his ill father.

Meanwhile fast bowler Jofra Archer was officially "rested", with England in the middle of a gruelling schedule of six Tests in seven weeks following their 2-1 series win at home to the West Indies last month.

Archer's place was taken by left-arm seamer Sam Curran, who has been on the winning side in all his previous eight home Tests.