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James Anderson will pull back the curtains of his hotel room overlooking the Ageas Bowl on Tuesday morning a very nervous man indeed.
Storm Francis is due to hit the area around 7am and linger until after lunch bringing heavy rain and high winds to deluge an already soggy outfield and threaten to wash away his moment of history.
Anderson can only hope enough time can be salvaged for him to take one more wicket needed to become the first fast bowler to take 600 in Tests. He moved one small step closer on Monday, taking one for 18 in the 56 overs of play possible on another damp day.
There is no more Test cricket in the calendar for England after this game. A tour to Sri Lanka is mooted in the new year but Anderson was not picked in the squad the last time England went there earlier this year.
A five-match series is scheduled for India sometime in February but in this uncertain world nothing can be guaranteed. Anderson was left out of the side by the end of the last tour to India four years ago when he was half fit and ineffective on spinning pitches so he is not exactly guaranteed his spot. There is a chance the series could be played in the UAE where Anderson extracts reverse swing and averages 20. But Anderson is five years older from the last time England toured the Emirates, and he would prefer an empty Ageas Bowl to an empty dustbowl in Sharjah for his landmark moment.
Hampshire have brought in longer covers for this game to protect the bowlers run ups which were a problem last week. There is far more urgency from all the officials and groundstaff to maximise play and expect to see a much more intense drying-up operation on Tuesday with an England legend on the verge of history.
England also need to win this game. The series is in the bag but the World Test Championship gives every match meaning and if England win they will earn 30 points and go past Australia into second place behind India. The top two contest the final next year, if it goes ahead.
Pakistan are 100 for two and putting up strong resistance. They looked comfortable on a slow pitch good for batting once the new ball wore off, and in captain Azhar Ali have a secure and confident batsman with a hundred in the first innings to his name.
Only 18 overs were bowled before the rain came down heavily and the teams did not come back until almost 4pm for an extended session of three hours 45 minutes. It did not last that long of course. Bad light curtailed play just after Anderson had moved to 599.
It should have been his 600th, or even 603rd given four catches were dropped off him in 37 balls. Three were on Sunday night in the Pakistan first innings and left Anderson with his head in his hands.
The fourth was probably the worst given it was by the wicketkeeper, Jos Buttler. He did not even lay a glove on a thick edge from Shan Masood in Anderson’s third over that flew straight at him. It may have deviated slightly but compared to the stunners Buttler took on Sunday evening, this was a regulation catch he would take nine times out of 10.
Anderson took it quite well for him, especially as his patience had just been tested by over-eager young sub fielder James Bracey needlessly throwing at the stumps and costing him four overthrows. Bracey had come on the field for Ollie Pope who hurt his left shoulder diving on the boundary. Pope had surgery on the joint last year and was not seen again for the rest of the day. Bracey’s punishment was to spend most of the afternoon at short leg.
Pakistan were comfortable but gifted England their first wicket. Shan Masood failed to play a shot at Broad and was given out by Michael Gough. Masood can consider himself a touch unlucky, with HawkEye adjuging it umpire's call. He may have been given not out had he played a shot and it was a lapse in concentration just after a drinks break.
This was a snapshot of life overseas: a flat pitch, and a soft ball doing nothing. Even Anderson resorted to bouncers after Abid Ali felt secure enough to advance down the pitch at him. Broad had a go at leg theory, bowling bumpers round the wicket, but on a slow pitch the batsman had plenty of time to deal with it.
This was a chance for Dom Bess on the kind of pitch he will face this winter. He bowled 14 overs and was more consistent but lacked real threat bowling too straight for most of the day. His defensive fields did not help, and were conservative given England had a mammoth lead.
England worked hard on the ball and eventually found some reverse swing. Abid moved too far across the line to an Anderson inswinger that struck him in front. Anderson nervously watched the review, but it was plumb.
The light was fading and England brought on Archer, a gamble given the umpires were twitching. Anderson had one more over but Root was forced to bowl himself to prevent play being suspended. It was not long before it was even too dark for his off-spin. Moments later the rain started falling and it may not stop in time for Anderson to put the perfect ending on the summer.
Close: Pakistan 100/2 following on trail by 210
That is the end of the day: the Pakistan boys have fought hard. The weather forecast is poor, and James Anderson is left high and dry on 599 Test wickets. All will be revealed tomorrow - and although we could start at 1030 the weather forecast for tomorrow morning is so bad that they are just going to go for 11am. We will see you then.
Rain now: that really will be it
I am sure.
Bad light: PAK 100/2 (Azhar Ali 29* Babar Azam 4*)
If that is the light meter reading they have taken, I cannot see how they get back on. It's very cloudy there. The pitch has not got much in it. With the forecast tomorrow not good at all, a battling display from Pakistan has given them every chance of saving this match.
OVER 56: PAK 100/2 (Azhar Ali 29* Babar Azam 4*)
Bit of everything from Joe Root there. Couple of singles. And they are now coming off for bad light.
OVER 55: PAK 98/2 (Azhar Ali 28* Babar Azam 3*)
Nice, wide, attacking line from Dom Bess. Nearly gets one to rip back through the gate, a thick insisde edge saving the driving Azhar Ali.
OVER 54: PAK 93/2 (Azhar Ali 25* Babar Azam 1*)
Root with his off-spinners, and he tries one leg-break in there as well. Babar with a bit of gardening.
OVER 53: PAK 92/2 (Azhar Ali 25* Babar Azam 0*)
A couple of this over from Bess, and it looks like it will be Root to bowl next.
OVER 52: PAK 90/2 (Azhar Ali 23* Babar Azam 0*)
Jimmy Anderson might have to wait another day (or more) for that 600. The light has deteriorated. The groundstaff look poised for action. No dice for Jim in this over.
The umpires, I think, have told England it is spinners or nothing from here on out.
OVER 51: PAK 89/2 (Azhar Ali 20* Babar Azam 0*)
England bring Jofra Archer on, if they are worried about the umpires pulling the plug for light then that might not be the smartest move. But ultimately, there is not much they can do about that. Chin music for Babar Azam - they're coming to get you, Barbara - and he ducks a few and has a heave at one, missing.
OVER 50: PAK 88/2 (Azhar Ali 20* Babar Azam 0*)
Pakistan don't lose the review. Hard lines Abid but it was going to hit so what can you do. It brings Babar Azam onto strike.
WICKET! Abid Ali lbw Anderson 42
That's given out on field but might be slipping down leg. It's going to stay out, it's clipping the leg stump. Feel a bit for Abid, albeit that it was hitting the stumps. Quality bit of reverse swing bowling has done for Abid Ali, who played well. James Anderson moves on to 599 Test wickets. FOW 88/2
OVER 49: PAK 87/1 (Abid Ali 42* Azhar Ali 20*)
Bess bowls an over. The umpires have sneaked a light meter on.
OVER 48: PAK 87/1 (Abid Ali 42* Azhar Ali 20*)
Broad looked like he was getting the ball to reverse. Here is Jimmy to have a go at same. Two slips, gully. Silly mid off, silly mid on and a short midwicket. Azhar Ali, on strike, gets a couple. Anderson definitely getting that to reverse.
Lights are on. Grey. But we play.
OVER 47: PAK 85/1 (Abid Ali 42* Azhar Ali 18*)
Bess continues, right on the button right away after the break. Cloudier there now. I would not be surprised if there is a bit of weather to come.
OVER 46: PAK 84/1 (Abid Ali 42* Azhar Ali 17*)
226 runs behind are the tourists, they keep plugging away with some terrific heart and no little skill, despite needing snookers.
Broad's starting to find some movement through the air here, that ball was tested to see if it was out of shape a couple of overs ago but Broad will be happy with it.
Drinks. Neither side exactly racing to get back to it.
OVER 45: PAK 84/1 (Abid Ali 42* Azhar Ali 17*)
The Broad-Bess continuum, er, continues: Dom getting through some overs after a long summer of doing not much. God I miss those. Neither player minded to take many risks, and Pakistan are going along pretty well here.
OVER 41: PAK 79/1 (Abid Ali 40* Azhar Ali 14*)
Short ball to Azhar Ali, he tries to fence it around the corner, it flicks at something on the way through. Broad naturally thinks it must have been the glove, wiser heads prevail and England don't review: it clipped the shirt or chest guard.
OVER 41: PAK 79/1 (Abid Ali 40* Azhar Ali 14*)
Just one off that Bess over.
OVER 40: PAK 78/1 (Abid Ali 40* Azhar Ali 13*)
Stuart Broad on for a new spell, he's got his fielders back and here it comes: something of a retro feel as Broad bangs it in, enforcer style.
OVER 39: PAK 74/1 (Abid Ali 36* Azhar Ali 13*)
"England are bowling economically, but there is not a real sense of threat," assess Mike Atherton. Seems a fair read, to me.
Abid and Azhar both get hold of Bess in this over, connecting with sweeps. Seven off the over.
We're back, baby
OVER 38: PAK 67/1 (Abid Ali 33* Azhar Ali 9*)
A 'hint' of reverse swing for Chris Woakes. Always a 'hint' never a 'soupçon' or a 'touch' or 'suggestion' or 'whisper' etc. But for all that movement, when Woakes errs too straight, Azhar on-drives him for four with glorious timing.
OVER 37: PAK 62/1 (Abid Ali 32* Azhar Ali 5*)
Bess has gradually improved with each over - good flight and drift. Abid is boxed into his crease for all but one delivery, which he tries to sweep but can't beat short fine leg. Abid's forward defensive to the final ball of the over squirts off the outside edge of the toe wide of slip and he jogs a single.
OVER 36: PAK 61/1 (Abid Ali 31* Azhar Ali 5*)
Apologies for the technical issues that are affecting all our live blogs this afternoon. Chris Woakes continues and tempts Azhar into an intemperate hook - the ball was too close to his body and consequently he top-edges but the ball flies over the slips and he trots two. Rory Burns turned from second slip and tried to chase it down but Usain Bolt would not have made the same postcode as the ball when it fell to earth. This is Rob Bagchi, sitting in for the justifiably IT-exasperated Alan Tyers.
Drinks: Pakistan 58/1
This pair going okay, Abid is getting some treatment on his hand, he got a stinger on there a few minutes ago. A stiff breeze blows around the ground. Broad has an old-fashioned long sleeve pullover on.
England continue to strive and seek - as do we..
Very sorry to relate that we are having some technical difficulties here folks.
OVER 28: PAK 53/1 (Abid Ali 28* Azhar Ali 0*)
Jofra Archer exploring the back foot technique of Abid Ali.
OVER 27: PAK 52/1 (Abid Ali 27* Azhar Ali 0*)
Dom Bess comes on, encouraging first over with some dip and flight. Good segment with him and SK Warne on the telleh earlier. Seems like a bright and eager young fella.
OVER 26: PAK 51/1 (Abid Ali 26* Azhar Ali 0*)
Jofra Archer comes on to replace Stuart Broad. He's testing out the middle of the pitch here against Azhar, the new man plays it without too much trouble.
OVER 25: PAK 51/1 (Abid Ali 26* Azhar Ali 0*)
Anderson with some shorter stuff to Abid. Couple off the over.
OVER 24: PAK 49/1 (Abid Ali 24* Azhar Ali 0*)
Deja vu all over again for Azhar Ali, back in for the third time in the match, if you include the curio when he came out last night to bat, only for bad light tp stop the second innings before it began.
WICKET! Shan Massod lbw Broad 18
Broad over the wicket to the left-hander, Masood pads up offering no shot. The ball flicks him high up on the pad. It pitched in line. Is it going to clip the off-stump? It is! FOW 49/1
Given not on the field, he reviews. Umpire's call, and Umpire Michael Gough has called it right yet again. Shan Masood probably feels a little hard done by, but once you don't offer a shot, and hope to leave on length.... well it's always a risk in England.
OVER 23: PAK 49/0 (Shan Masood 18* Abid Ali 24*)
Abid looks like he's ticking a bit to me. Throwing the bat. I wonder if he reckons he has the tekkers to face down Jimmy and Broad. He did okay before the rain. Oooh, here's something else for him to think about. Hit on the bottom hand by a lifter. Trainer on. He continues. Beaten prodding outside the off-stump next ball.
OVER 22: PAK 47/0 (Shan Masood 18* Abid Ali 22*)
England bowling dry, as they like to say, and fielding well but Masood drives the ball here for four. Not sure Broad will mind too much. Ball before the boundary, Shan had a little nibble at a waspish ball that nibbled away.
OVER 21: PAK 43/0 (Shan Masood 14* Abid Ali 22*)
Anderson bringing that ball back into the righty now, at 85mph. That ball, when the camera briefly zooms in on it, looks older than 21 overs. Abid hits it to a fielder and runs. Lucky for him there's a misfield. Anderson slips the ball past the edge of Abid's bat, there's an appeal but England are not prepared to put their money where their mouth is and review it.
OVER 20: PAK 42/0 (Shan Masood 13* Abid Ali 22*)
Root goes with the obvious and surely correct pair: Anderson and, now, Broad. An accurate maiden from Stuart gets his afternoon under way.
OVER 19: PAK 42/0 (Shan Masood 13* Abid Ali 22*)
No obvious swing for Jimmy the first few balls. Stiff breeze has got up. Manages to get one to deviate through the air now though, that swings into the pads of Abid Ali. Going down leg. Jimmy around 79, 80mph. Must be stiff work I should think, all this damp around.
52 overs. James Anderson has the ball. Abid Ali is on strike. Three slips.
The England guys are out on the pitch
Broad one of the last, trotting down the stairs now. Some instructions from Joe Root. And they take their fielding positions under blue skies, little fluffy clouds.
James Anderson is on 598
and here he comes down the stairs, a grumpy, rather sour look on his face. That's our boy.
The dear old rope being dragged
around the ground. Looks a nice afternoon there now.
A long session in store then
England will be wanting to break the back of the Pakistan batting, given that the forecast tomorrow is not good. Not beyond the realms that they could wrap the match up tonight.
The restart is scheduled for 3.45pm
Looks pretty nice there. They will have had tea by the time of the restart. There will be 52 overs in the day, and we can play until 7.30pm.
Many covers have been taken off
There are signs of life.
News of that inspection
will be with us very shortly. It has brightened up there.
has just used the expression "a bit boggy", not really what you want to hear said about an international cricket ground.
Inspection at 3pm now
The result of the meeting was to have another meeting.
There will be an inspection at2.20pm
I will update you as soon as there is news.
It is really coming down there
Puddles all over the outfield, covers on, groundstaff looking a little forlorn.
Rain in Southampton
have you caught any of Aatif on TMS? Excellent broadcaster in my view. Doing a sterling job.
Lunch is being taken
As yesterday, an early lunch means we should minimise the amount of game time lost. It looks really bilbical there at the moment! The groundstaff in their anoraks clambering over the clover sheets, all a bit THE CRUEL SEA. Hope there isn't a man overboard.
Rain: Pakistan 41/0, 269 behind following on
OVER 18: PAK 41/0 (Massod 13* Abid Ali 22*)
Floodlights very much on as Woakes completes this over, and sorry to say: the players are coming off. Not quite sure if itis rain or bad light but the result is the same.
OVER 17: PAK 40/0 (Massod 13* Abid Ali 21*)
The lights are on, Archer is bowling, and the third umpire is looming at the side of the paddock with the dreaded light meter.
OVER 16: PAK 38/0 (Massod 12* Abid Ali 20*)
The groundstaff are starting to look interested... Abid playing a solid over from Woakes quite nicely.
OVER 15: PAK 36/0 (Massod 12* Abid Ali 18*)
There are a couple of runs off Jofra's over, but more pertinently perhaps: it's looking rather murky at the ground.
OVER 14: PAK 34/0 (Massod 10* Abid Ali 18*)
Abid Ali plays out a maiden from Chris Woakes, which also features a brilliant legside stop from Jos.
There's some interesting debate about why slips and keeper might be struggling - light last night, and maybe also this wobble seam delivery that England have taken to using might behave differently after it takes the edge than the seam-up rudder delivery. Excellent insights from Ian Ward on Sky, as per.
That's drinks. Pakistan boys fighting hard, England bowling okay but not perhaps at their brilliant best.
OVER 13: PAK 34/0 (Massod 10* Abid Ali 18*)
Jofra Archer hits Shan Masood on the pads and appeals con brio but that looks like it is going over the top, and it will be from that sort of length. England don't review.
OVER 12: PAK 34/0 (Massod 10* Abid Ali 18*)
Woakes with a tight over.
OVER 11: PAK 32/0 (Massod 9* Abid Ali 17*)
Double change: here comes Jofra Archer. Fair play to the Pakistan openers for seeing off Jimmy and Broad, that was their first task and clearly not an easy one. Jofra starts with a maiden, but not one that Shan found especially problematic.
OVER 10: PAK 32/0 (Massod 9* Abid Ali 17*)
Chris Woakes comes on, Abid with a cut that never had much chance of connecting. Lovely ball to end a decent first over, beating him all ends up.
"England have been okay this morning," says Sir Andrew Strauss. That's okay as in not terrible rather than excellent. They haven't beaten the bat as much as Straussy would like. I suppose that drop would have really changed things. England, perhaps not unreasonably, have not quite been in top gear for the last couple of hours of play - last hour last night and then this morning.
OVER 9: PAK 30/0 (Massod 9* Abid Ali 15*)
Abid Ali with two attractive drives here, worthy of a three and a two. Anderson pitching it up. But Abid has played that over well.
OVER 8: PAK 25/0 (Massod 9* Abid Ali 10*)
Update on Ollie Pope: he won't re-take the field until lunch at least. Paul Collingwood has got into his whites (Colly's own whites, I mean - I don't think he's debagged the stricken young batsman) and can run on drinks if necessary.
Shan Masood playing and missing, which is not a criticism, this is quality bowling in the bowler's favourite conditions. Thick edges a four.
OVER 7: PAK 21/0 (Massod 5* Abid Ali 10*)
Anderson beating Abid Ali a couple of times here, looks like he might have a bit too much skill and experience for the Pakistan opener.
OVER 6: PAK 21/0 (Massod 5* Abid Ali 10*)
Abid Ali with some wild, wafty shots here, playing like a millionaire at Broad.
The other news from this morning is that Ollie Pope has hurt his shoulder fielding and had to go off.
OVER 5: PAK 18/0 (Massod 5* Abid Ali 7*)
James Anderson is doing his rueful mirthless smile face - and the reason being that Jos Buttler has dropped another catch! Oh dear me. It looked on first glance regulation but on another look it does swing a lot after it takes the edge of Shan Masood's bat.
And after all that yesterday as well!
Over 4: Pak 16-0, trail by 294 (Masood 3, Ali 12)
Loose from Broad, onto Abid Ali's toes and he clips away four easy runs through square leg. Root has four slips in place, as he had for most of yesterday.
Over 3: Pak 10-0, trail by 300 (Masood 3, Ali 6)
Oh, very nice Jimmy - beating the bat of Ali with a ball that he absolutely had to play. Slightly overcast in Southampton, fresh-looking morning, shiny new Dukes ball. This is a man in his element.
Oh no! Now the sub fielder disgraces himself with an utterly pointless overthrow for four. The batsman was well home and yet Bracey shied at the stumps with nobody backing up. Anderson looked furious - and might actually have exploded had the extra runs not been given as leg byes.
Over 2: Pak 3-0, trail by 307 (Masood 2, Ali 0)
Stuart Broad to share the new ball. Wonder if any other bowling pair have shared opening duties as frequently as these two? Quite probably not. Will ask our stats badgers at CricViz to find out.
Masood steers two runs off his pads and Pope has injured himself in diving to save the boundary. He's going off the field. Looks to be some kind of shoulder problem. Dive didn't look spectacular enough to deserve an injury.
Over 1: Pak 1-0, trail by 309 (Masood 0, Ali 0)
Anderson opens with a loosener down the leg side, which ricochets off pad for a leg bye to get Pakistan off the mark in their second innings, following on. Then the England GOAT (see below) gets into his groove with a flurry of away-swingers snaking past Ali's off stump.
Players are out
James Anderson to open the bowling, to his bunny, Shan Masood. 599 coming up...
Pakistan trail by 310
Azhar Ali will be batting at No 3 today, he has confirmed. Play set to start in a few minutes.
Scyld Berry on Azhar Ali
Azhar taught England a few truths about bowling when the pitch is flat and ball is soft; in other words what Test cricket's like abroad.
Azhar put down anchor and, ball by ball, stirred Pakistan’s hopes of a draw with the aid of some rain on the last two days. He batted at the same tempo as Pakistan’s batting coach Younis Khan, which Joe Root would do well to emulate to solve his conversion problem: infinite defensive pains when scoring your first 50, then opening up and accelerating to the second.
Tim Wigmore on Dom Bess
So why do England persevere with Dom Bess? Tim Wigmore explains in this piece.
No-one disputes that Bess is a work in progress. A month after turning 23, how could he not be? Especially for a conventional off-spinner - an art that depends on subtle variations in flight, line, length and simply metronomic consistency - Bess is simply extraordinarily young in his career.
Geoffrey Boycott on Jack Leach
Yes, England will probably win this match comfortably (weather permitting) but that will hide a mistake in selection, says Geoffrey Boycott.
I would have chosen Jack Leach for this match. An attack built around four seamers - three of whom are similar in style - is what you want for Perth, in the old days when the Waca pitch resembled a trampoline. And then they have gone for Dom Bess - whom I like as a cricketer - as a twirler who bats a bit.
Nick Hoult on James Anderson
Here's our chief cricket correspondent, on what could be a momentus day. Read his full report here.
James Anderson spent an age choosing the ball for Pakistan’s second innings carefully sorting through a box of shiny new Dukes before settling on one that will probably end up displayed in a glass case in the Lord’s museum.
Bess: Anderson is the GOAT
England off-spinner Dom Bess has described James Anderson as the greatest English player of all time after the 38-year-old moved within two wickets of becoming the first pace bowler to claim 600 test victims.
Anderson, England's highest test wicket-taker, claimed his fifth victim of the third test against Pakistan on Sunday and is set to reach the 600-wicket milestone when play gets under way today.
Only spin bowlers Muttiah Muralitharan (800) of Sri Lanka, Australia's Shane Warne (708) and India's Anil Kumble (619) have more wickets in the game's longest format.
"He's the GOAT of bowling and England's greatest," Bess said of Anderson.
"... It's phenomenal to stand at point and watch him nick people off, hit people on the shins and take as many poles as he does, so consistently.
"There was chat about a potential retirement [recently], then he comes back and absolutely tears it up. It just shows how good he is."
Play was stopped on Sunday due to bad light before Pakistan could bat again and Bess suggested that the players should have come off sooner.
"Playing in those conditions, we have to think a little about the players' well-being. Their numbers 10 and 11 facing Jofra Archer in those conditions is seriously dangerous," Bess said.
"We all want to get cricket on, but there has to be a little more common sense in terms of when it is too dark."
England lead the series 1-0 lead and are looking to seal their first test series win over Pakistan since 2010. The hosts won the first match in Manchester by three wickets and the rain-hit second game ended in a draw.